An open enquiry: How can we multiply the collective impact of funding for youth mental health?

The Foundation Design Lab is launching an open enquiry to find opportunities for greater collective awareness, interdependence and action amongst those investing in better youth mental health outcomes in the UK.

In short

The Foundation Design Lab, working closely with the Funders’ Collaborative Hub, will work intensively over the next 4 months to help answer the question:

  • More proactive collaboration, such as joint fund design; co-investment; joint research; joint investment in shared infrastructure, data or evidence; and joint lobbying and policy development
  • More implicit interdependence, such as common processes, standards and approaches; collective learning; mutually reinforcing forms and stages of capital; open decision making and investment data

Context: the youth mental health crisis in the UK

The Covid-19 lockdown has aggravated an already alarming and gut wrenching youth mental health crisis in the UK.

The response from grant funding

Child and youth mental health has been a growing priority for UK grant giving institutions and bodies, including at local and national government level, for some time.

How mutually aware, interdependent and collectively minded is the current landscape of youth mental health funders?

Grant funding operates within system-wide challenges, gaps and failures. There is a massive shortfall in NHS funding for youth mental health and, as a result, up to 70% of young people who have a diagnosed mental health disorder are receiving no evidenced support at all. These aren’t gaps that grant funding can or should fill and this isn’t a system that grant funding can fix.

Immediate aims of the enquiry

During this first phase of the enquiry we aim:

  • To identify and pursue immediate opportunities, for increasing mutual awareness, interdependence and collaboration in response to Covid-19, building on and connecting with existing efforts, such the Funders’ Collaborative Hub and Catalyst Data Collective, whenever possible

Longer-term aims

Over the longer-term, the Foundation Design Lab aims:

  • To build a more diverse and inclusive view of all capital and resource providers for youth mental health, including commissioners and impact investors, and support multiple cycles of work to increase interdependency and collective potential.
  • To help build open learning, practice and models, through our own work and as part of a network of like-minded efforts, that support thriving, interdependent landscapes of funders and other other capital providers in particular communities and systems.

Founder of Shift, a London and New Orleans based social enterprise that designs products, builds ventures and helps change systems.

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