Today, the Government launched its ten-year framework for mental health research in the UK. It’s an important document – and a key moment for mental health research, not least because it recognises that research must be at the very heart of efforts to tackle mental illness.
MQ was one of many organisations that worked with the Department of Health as the framework was developed, and as part of the major research funders group we will be exploring how to address key recommendations.
As an organisation, we’re committed to working with the Government to ensure this framework turns into profound, lasting change for the one in four people who experience mental illness every year.
Transforming the pace of change: the framework's recommendations
The framework makes a number of recommendations to help guide the future of mental health research. These include:
- Investigating mental illness at every stage of life
- Putting people with lived experience at the heart of research
- Investigating innovative responses to mental illness that go beyond medical settings
- Improving coordination between research organisations
- Learning from the vast amounts of data we have related to mental health
- Developing new, flexible funding for mental health studies
The framework shows, in short, the many ways that research could propel our understanding forward. But it also makes clear the scale of the challenges that remain to make that vital change possible.
Right now, only £8 is spent on research per person affected by mental illness in the UK – that’s 22 times less than the £178 spent per person diagnosed with cancer.
But we’ve seen what can happen with sustained leadership. The Government’s Dementia Challenge, for example, led to huge shifts in research activity and in public support. We need to see the same for mental health – and this new framework could be a vital part of making change happen.
How MQ will keep pushing for progress
In the coming years, we’ll keep the pressure on for wide-ranging and ambitious action based on the Government’s framework.
In particular, we’ll continue to focus on the three areas we have already identified as the clearest opportunities for progress:
- Pushing for greater leadership to tackle decades of underfunding for mental health research
- Bringing about a revolution in the use of data about mental health
- Focusing on the mental health of young people.
These areas, which all link closely to priorities outlined in the report, are our key drivers. This is where we see the biggest potential to change lives. So these three areas will continue to guide our work as we galvanise the research community, get more people involved in research and actively support new studies.
As the Government’s framework recognises, this is the time for real ambition.
It’s a significant new opportunity, and now is the time to help realise its potential. This should be the point were we finally achieve the greater focus, collaboration and investment we all know is desperately needed.
Together we can ensure that, a decade from now, mental health research truly has been transformed.
Last updated: 7 December 2017