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Invest in the MQ Emergency Appeal

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Before March 2020, 1 in 4 people in the UK experienced a mental illness in a ‘standard’ year. But 2020 has not been a ‘standard’ year. Mental illness is already one of the world’s most urgent global concerns with depression alone poised to be the world’s leading cause of disease by 2030.

We need to raise £3 million and leverage a further £10m by July 2021 to urgently meet the demands of this crisis, plan for its impacts and accelerate the long-term mental health recovery. Will you help?

How has COVID-19 accelerated the need for mental health research?

COVID-19 has placed immense pressure on all of us, whilst those impacted the most are likely to be from the most vulnerable groups, those from BAME backgrounds, young people and those already living with mental health challenges. This has accelerated the need for effective and available solutions which only research can provide.

Even prior to COVID-19, research was urgently needed into digital and remote mental health interventions to meet the scale of increasing demand for services. Now, commentators are calling the rapid and complete shift to remote services brought on by COVID-19 the biggest change to mental health care since the closure of asylums. It is imperative that this shift is research-informed and evidence-based - there is too much at stake for our response to be based on guesswork.

How can we make a difference?

Cancer research vs mental health research

As the UK’s leading mental health research charity, we know what’s needed. We can see the urgent need to bring the brightest minds into mental health research to pursue new insights and innovations. We know faster progress will only come through greater collaboration. We believe that people affected by mental illness need to be at the heart of research designed to understand, treat and prevent it.

We are now seeking partners to join us to raise the funds needed to meet the next crisis created by COVID-19 and to mobilise supporters who want to see the next great shift in healthcare.

In return, we will guarantee that you will be part of a movement that will fight this crisis with Science, Collaboration & Engagement.

Our £3m investment:

  • £1.5m | Leaders in Science – together we will create world-leading science to develop evidence-based solutions to mental health challenges, especially those that have been worsened or created as a result of COVID-19
  • £500k | Leaders in Collaboration – we will foster ground-breaking collaborations and galvanise the sector, including hosting our annual Mental Health Science Summit in May 2021, the first opportunity for the sector to come together since COVID-19
  • £1m | Leaders in Engagement – we will engage & inspire the public to be part of our mental health research response to COVID-19; from taking part in research through our ground-breaking Participate platform, to working with us to shape and champion solutions to the key challenges.

Our £10m pledge:

  • We will use our influence in the research community and our position as the UK’s leading charity in this space to leverage a further £10m of funding from the Government and other funding bodies into mental health research
  • We will ensure that the pioneers we fund and the collaborations we form do not end with our involvement and instead, receive the vital support to deliver real, patient impact

Why MQ is uniquely placed to deliver transformative change

In just seven years, MQ has become established as a world-class funder of mental health research and a guiding voice in mental health science.

  • £10m invested in research that is already seeing impacts. Researchers have identified risks for psychosis, pioneered new ways to create brain tissues in the lab, and shown how automated therapies can treat anxiety effectively.
  • MQ researchers have secured over £16m of additional funding because of the quality and potential of their work.

In the months since the COVID-19 outbreak began, MQ has rapidly mobilised the UK’s mental health research response:

  • We have provided influence, coordination and partnership, leading to the publication of our sector-leading Lancet Psychiatry paper in just three weeks, setting out the research priorities/roadmap for the pandemic, as gathered from over 3,000 members of the public and analysed by our panel of experts.
  • We pivoted our Participate platform, that had already had over 50,000 visits in its first 3 months, to provide a hub for Covid-19 related mental health studies – allowing more people to actively participate in research.
  • We convened and led groups on remote, digital interventions and collation of data to provide the full picture and now plan to launch Covid-19 specific research programmes to fast-track impact.

 This combined approach – funding trailblazing research, building the mental health science community and engaging the public – continues to increase our impact and our return on investment.

How your investment in the emergency appeal will change lives

1. Leaders in Science: You will fund exceptional mental health scientists: £1.5m

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Now, more than ever, we need leaders in science. MQ draws on the best international expertise to fund exceptional scientists pursuing the most impactful and innovative ideas. Our research panels set high-quality thresholds, but still turn down many brilliant projects because of insufficient funds, and those researchers often have nowhere else to turn.

This means that increasing the number of MQ awards not only accelerates our understanding and treatment of mental illness, but it makes a huge difference to overall mental health research capacity.

Through our Leaders in Science, we will fund outstanding scientists to answer the greatest questions on mental health and on the long-term impact of COVID-19 which we are only beginning to see.

2. Leaders in Collaboration - you will foster groundbreaking collaborations: £500k

Leaders in Collaboration onbrand

Collaboration is a catalyst. It fires new thinking. This is especially true in an area as complex and broad as mental health science. Across our work, we have formed coalitions of psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, psychiatrists, policymakers and more. We have successfully mobilised funders to ensure mental health research is part of their immediate and long-term considerations of COVID-19 – already leading to vital new funding. And we've brought together these groups to design new programmes to understand the pandemic's lasting impact, and develop novel,evidence-based interventions to support those who need it most.

Through our Leaders in Collaboration, we will foster cross-disciplinary working, lead the largest global Mental Health Science Summit at this pivotal time, and continue to ensure the sector is not only joined up but receiving the funding it so desperately needs.

3. Leaders in Engagement - you will radically increase involvement in mental health research: £1m

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No one else is bringing together scientists and the public in the same way as MQ. We know that the lived experiences of people with mental illness must inform and inspire research. We must also ensure that research doesn’t just remain with researchers – but can translate into real change.   

Through our Leaders in Engagement, we will build and develop our Participate platform and public outreach to increase the numbers taking part in, and engaging with, mental health research. We will bridge the gap between researchers and those who know the reality of mental illness, increasing the diversity of voices that are heard and who benefit from their work. 

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Thank you for your interest in the MQ Emergency Appeal. Together, we can fund exceptional scientists, foster groundbreaking collaborations and make mental health research reach those who most need it. Together, we can accelerate a step-change in research - and transform our knowledge of how to understand, treat and prevent mental illness in a post-COVID-19 world.

For more information, please contact our Head of Philanthropic Partnerships, Emily Wheeler at

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