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Report summary

Mental health: listening to young people and learning from Covid-19

Covid-19 has highlighted that mental health is an urgent global health challenge requiring international cooperation.

This position paper sets out a commitment by Wellcome, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the World Economic Forum to embed three principles across our mental health work: lived experience, local innovation, and larger than healthcare. 

Key findings 

  • Covid-19 is an opportunity to shift towards an approach to mental health that looks both at individuals and at the collective of which we are part, and that recognises both medical and community approaches as valuable.
  • Wellcome, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Executive Office of the UN Secretary General have committed to embedding the following three principles into our practice. Each year, for the next five years, a group of young people with lived experience will ask us to demonstrate that we are:
    • putting lived experience at the heart of policy and practice
    • positioning local innovation as a focus for learning and funding
    • envisioning mental health as larger than healthcare
  • Alongside our commitment, we commissioned two cultural projects to illustrate the multiple ways that young people and communities are driving innovation in mental health at a local and national level. 
    • The Collective Resilience report examines how people have coped and found meaning and connection during Covid-19 – from individual self-care practices like meditation to Zoom calls for family and friends, and from neighbourhood mutual aid groups to worldwide protest movements.
    • The Covid Living project captures how young people have managed their mental health during and after lockdown. The project experimented with different methods and activities to enable 14-to-24-year-olds to share their experiences, including a series of creative challenges.


"Covid-19 has had a massive impact on all of our mental health. And like Covid-19, mental health is bigger than just a health issue, it’s too big for any one organisation to tackle alone. I’m delighted and proud that Wellcome has committed to these shared principles – lived experience, local innovation, larger than healthcare – in our mental health work."
Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome

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