MQ analysis reveals ‘historic under-funding’ of UK mental health research
"Parity for mental health must include commitments to research"
A new funding analysis published today by MQ, reveals a picture of historic under-investment in UK mental health research. This includes ‘virtually non-existent’ charitable funding, which has contributed to overall levels that fail to meet the scale or impact of mental illness.
For every £1 spent by the Government on mental health research, the general public gives just 0.3p. The equivalent general public donation for cancer is £2.75.
£9.75 is invested in research per person affected by mental illness – over 100 times less than the amount spent on cancer research per patient (£1,571).
Most mental health conditions have even lower investment figures, including autism (£3.98 per person affected), depression (£1.55), and OCD (89p). For anxiety and eating disorder research, less than 21 pence is spent per person affected.
The findings are outlined in a new report UK Mental Health Research Funding: MQ Landscape Analysis. This sets out the most comprehensive overview of UK mental health research funding ever produced, combining a major new six-year funding analysis with the most current existing data.
Commenting MQ’s chief executive, Cynthia Joyce, said:
“As our analysis shows, current levels of research are not fit-for-purpose. This means that advances are being held back in areas that could make a real difference to people’s lives, including the development of new treatments and opportunities to prevent mental illness in future generations.
We are beginning to see important changes in our public dialogue about mental health, but any efforts to truly achieve ‘parity of esteem’ will be hindered without similar commitments to mental health research.”
MQ Senior Advisor Professor Roz Shafran, Chair of Translational Psychology at University College London also said: “This ground-breaking report highlights the scandal of underinvestment in mental health research in general and psychological treatment in particular. Highlighting the gap between the paucity of research funding and enormous impact of mental health disorders is the first step in beginning to close it”.
In total, the UK spends an average £115 million a year on mental health research –85% of which is from just three funders: the Wellcome Trust; the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR); and the Medical Research Council (MRC).
MQ’s report calls for sustained efforts to grow levels of mental health research funding in the UK and improved data and knowledge sharing. MQ will be producing the report on an annual basis, to ensure continued monitoring and record progress.
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