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Make the UK the leading research and technology economy in the world for mental health

Last updated: 11:43am 11 July 2019

We will make the UK the leading research and technology economy in the world for mental health, bringing together public, private and charitable investment.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.57

Our verdict

Any verdict on whether the UK is the world leader in something as loosely defined as research and technology for mental health will always be open to debate – there are too many moving parts to reach an absolutely definitive judgement. That said, in 2016, RAND Europe published a briefing which found that the UK Department of Health is the “most acknowledged funder of mental health research in the UK”, and “the 8th most acknowledged funder of mental health research in the world”. This policy is an ambitious promise to move the UK into the number one spot.

This government has invested in mental health research, including a £15 million boost in November 2017 and a share of a £215 million research package announced in July 2018.

In December 2017, the government published its Framework for Mental Health Research, aiming to:

“improve co-ordination and focus on areas where mental health research is likely to translate into significant health benefits…”

In September 2018, the government’s largest medical research funder UK Research and Innovation  launched eight new mental health networks to “bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address important mental health research questions”.

Despite these developments, there is concern in the sector around “chronic underfunding” of mental health research, with one charity launching a legal challenge against what it sees as discriminatory research funding policy.

There is government investment going towards this policy area, but the challenges of measuring outcomes, and the controversy around funding levels and mechanisms, mean this remains ‘in progress’. To move this to ‘done’ we would need to see a consensus emerge among charities, research bodies, health practitioners and people with mental health issues. We’ll keep tracking, so follow this policy for updates.

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There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.