Opinion

A world where no one is held back: our vision for Mental Health

Miranda Wolpert, Director of Mental Health at Wellcome, shares our approach to creating a step-change in early intervention for anxiety, depression and psychosis.

Two brothers hug in a park a few days after lockdown restrictions were eased.
A photograph of the author, Miranda Wolpert.

Miranda Wolpert

A photograph of the author, Miranda Wolpert.

Miranda Wolpert

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A world where no one is held back: our vision for Mental Health
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Many millions of people are being held back from achieving their potential in life by mental health problems.

Frequently first arising in adolescence or early adulthood, mental ill health can change people’s life trajectories, damaging relationships, derailing education and careers, limiting life expectancy and holding people back from the lives that they wish to lead.

At Wellcome, we want to change that. We want to help create a world where no one is held back by mental health problems.

Targeted funding 

Science is central to achieving this vision. Basic discovery research may open new insights, even from areas as yet not clearly related to mental health conditions. We encourage curiosity-driven researchers, ranging from neuroscience to social science, to share their boldest ideas when applying for funding through Wellcome’s Discovery Research schemes.

But to drive progress with urgency also needs more targeted scientific attention on specific mental health conditions. That’s why our Mental Health programme is focused on convening and funding to create a step-change in early intervention for anxiety, depression and psychosis.

As part of this work, we will put out targeted funding calls for research to enhance understanding of how anxiety, depression and psychosis develop and resolve and to develop all kinds of potential early interventions to help resolve them. We have a broad outline of mental health research funding calls scheduled to launch in the next two years so you can see where there may be opportunities to work with us.

"We have the opportunity to encourage research that rigorously examines, unpicks and explains the tangle of biological, psychological and social factors in mental health, and to develop improved understanding and interventions."

Miranda Wolpert, Director of Mental Health

Overcoming barriers 

The financial resources that Wellcome is committing to this specific challenge within mental health represent a considerable step forward in an area that has been drastically underfunded in proportion to the scale of the problem. But money is not enough. The mental health field also needs to overcome barriers of knowledge and practice between subspecialties, ideological disputes that have become entrenched to no one’s benefit, and a history of minimising or excluding the views of people with lived experience.

Our approach is therefore always to encourage interdisciplinarity within the field, as well as more porous boundaries around the field to allow fresh perspectives and opinions in, and to put lived experience at the heart of research.

From my own experience as a former clinician and academic, I am keenly aware of the responsibility we have to drive the field of mental health science forward. We have the opportunity to encourage research that rigorously examines, unpicks and explains the tangle of biological, psychological and social factors in mental health, and to develop improved understanding and interventions. It is an amazing opportunity, and I feel a personal responsibility to make sure that we leverage this commitment to its full potential.

We must seize this opportunity to come together and revolutionise how we understand and address mental health problems.

  • Miranda Wolpert

    Director of Mental Health

    Wellcome

    Professor Miranda Wolpert MBE is the Director of Mental Health at Wellcome, a global charitable foundation which supports science to solve urgent health challenges.