1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year in England.* A sobering statistic that highlights the scale of the mental health crisis. Behind the numbers, many individuals and families are struggling, and major issues such as the rising cost of living have only exacerbated the problem. Often the people who are affected the most are those living in challenging circumstances - 62% of the grant applications we receive for mental health projects are to support people in the most deprived areas of the UK and Ireland.
Grants for mental health have been increasing year on year according to 360Giving** data, with almost £16.5bn awarded to date. This only shows part of the story with organisations who have published their data, the actual figure is likely to be much higher. Whilst it’s encouraging to see that there is support available, the escalation of need year on year is a clear indicator of a growing problem.
The turning point for our grant funding
360Giving data showed a major peak in mental health grants at the tail end of the pandemic, which is something that’s been reflected in our own grant-giving. The impact of complete isolation, health anxiety, and financial insecurity was unprecedented. This was a period that brought mental health to the forefront of conversation, and for us it was the start of an increased focus on supporting mental wellbeing in our communities.
Our 2020 Covid-19 survey identified loneliness and mental health as the top two concerns for churches post-pandemic, and this was echoed in the grant applications we received through our Hope Beyond Covid response grants programme. We knew we needed to act and start to address mental health as priority, and in 2022 we launched our Brighter Lives grants programme to help Christian organisations to respond to the long-term impact of Covid-19 on people’s mental health.
In total, we awarded over £2m in Brighter Lives grants and supported some inspiring projects. Our funding helped the charity Kintsugi Hope
to develop its Mental Health Friendly Church programme to enable churches to become safe and supportive places for people struggling with mental health issues. A grant also helped Youthscape
to develop an online platform to support young people’s mental health needs. A vital project considering the impact of the pandemic on the younger generation. 1 in 6 young people in England experienced a mental health problem in 2020, up from 1 in 9 in 2017.***
Where we are now
As we moved into 2023, we wanted to make mental health an integral part of our grant funding in our ongoing commitment to addressing society’s most challenging issues. We’ve been able to achieve this through the launch of our Community Impact Grants programme
which is helping us to empower organisations to make a transformative difference in communities and get to the root of the need that’s out there. Since the programme launched, we’ve been privileged to help the Be Me Project
which is supporting young people in secondary schools with issues such as their self-worth, emotions, and identity. We’ve also had the opportunity to help fund West London Mission’s
counselling programme which provides low-cost and longer-term counselling and psychotherapy for people living in disadvantaged circumstances.
Our goal is to build on this work and support more organisations who are driving change, reducing the stigma around mental health, and ultimately helping those who are struggling.
**360Giving - an online platform that allows funders to publish grant-making data.