"The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health has over the past 20 years become the leading provider of research and training in mental health. To say the charity is widely respected would be a huge understatement."

David Brindle, The Guardian, March 2006

Centre for Mental Health began in March 1985 as the National Unit for Psychiatric Research and Development (NUPRD). It was founded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, an independent grant-making trust set up by Lord Sainsbury of Turville to 'advance education and learning in the science and practise of mental health care, to promote research into mental health and publish the useful results and to assist the provision of mental health care for those in need of it'. The aim was for NUPRD to tackle these issues by working in a different way to other organisations.

NUPRD was staffed by a small group of people working in an office at Lewisham Hospital. After 1989 it became known as Research and Development for Psychiatry (RDP) and then moved into the current offices on Borough High Street.

In February 1992, we became Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. Sainsbury Centre was at the centre of developing and helping to implement the National Service Framework for Mental Health.

From 2006, we changed our work to focus on mental health and employment, in which we already had an established programme, and a new area of work on mental health and the criminal justice system. In 2007, we launched a new look and logo (the green that I hope you are now familiar with) to accompany this change in our focus.

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation provided the Centre's core funding each year from 1985. But in 2009 it announced that it would be spending out its funds in following few years, and its annual grant to us would cease in 2010. It has now done so, and we have made plans for new working arrangements for the future, for which Gatsby has provided a final grant.

Since July 2010, we have been known as Centre for Mental Health.

Key work

Here are the key pieces of work that we have carried out in the last 25 years.

Community teams

We led the way in pioneering the development of community care from our early work on the closure of long-stay hospitals to the development of community mental health teams. Our work in the late 1990s heralded the development of assertive outreach for people with severe mental health problems who were not in regular contact with services and crisis resolution to support people in their own homes during periods of acute illness.

Keys to Engagement book coverKeys to Engagement was one of the first UK books on assertive outreach. It set the agenda for the implementation of assertive outreach in England.

Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment

Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment book coverCrisis resolution and home treatment (CRHT) teams provide intensive support at home for individuals experiencing an acute mental health crisis. They aim to reduce both the number and length of hospital admissions and to ease the pressure on inpatient units.

These models for Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment were subsequently adopted into Government policy which set targets for the introduction of teams around the country. We have since helped to develop and train over 100 crisis resolution teams.

This work culminated in the 2006 publication of a guide to crisis resolution and home treatment which shows how teams can work to reduce admissions to acute inpatient care and support early discharge from hospital.

Inequalities in mental health care

Breaking the Circles of Fear book coverOur Breaking the Circles of Fear report, launched in 2002, highlighted the inequalities in the care that people from Black African and Caribbean communities receive from mental health services. This report, and the development project that followed, had a major influence on the Government's Delivering Race Equality strategy and produced valuable learning about local, community-based approaches to the issue.

Involving users in services

Guide to User-Focused Monitoring book coverOver the past ten years we have championed the role of service users in leading evaluations of mental health services. Our user-focused monitoring (UFM) programme showed how their unique perspective produces research that breaks boundaries and gives service providers new insight into the impact they have on people's lives. Many services around the country have now adopted this approach and our work culminated in 2006 with the publication of a practical guide to managing UFM projects.

Workforce development

Essential Shared Capabilities book coverThe Centre trained thousands of staff in new ways of working in acute care, assertive outreach, dual diagnosis and values based practice. Between 2001 and 2006, our models of the Capable Practitioner and the Ten Essential Shared Capabilities identified the key skills for all mental health staff and are used universally by workforce planners.

Primary care

Primary Care Guide book coverOur work in primary care has had a major influence. We have highlighted the importance of physical health care for those with mental health problems and distributed over 10,000 copies of our unique primary care guide to caring for people with severe mental illness.

Neglected Majority book coverOur innovative work in intermediate care showed how primary care practices can provide ongoing support for people with mental health problems who do not need specialist services by collaborating with other agencies to give practical help with many aspects of daily living.

Mental health at work

Mental Health at Work book coverAt any one time one worker in six will be experiencing depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress. The total cost to employers is estimated at nearly £26 billion each year.

Simple steps to improve the management of mental health in the workplace should enable employers to save 30 per cent or more of these costs - at least £8 billion a year.

Centre for Mental Health Workplace Training We now offer workshops on mental health at work called Centre for Mental Health Workplace Training. It is a proven, work based programme that reduces the impact of depression and anxiety minimising the effects on an organisation.

The Centre's Workplace Training raises awareness and encourages a proactive response from managers. It uses a range of training techniques that build knowledge, skills and confidence amongst managers and staff to recognise and give help to colleagues with depression and anxiety.

Find out more about Workplace Training here.

Making Recovery a Reality

Making Recovery a Reality book coverMental health services need to change radically to focus on recovery. They need to demonstrate success in helping service users to get their lives back and giving service users the chance to make their own decisions about how they live their lives.

We have published three papers on recovery aimed at developing guidance for NHS Trusts and other provider organisations on what they can do to implement recovery-orientated practice.

The next stage of the project aims to assist up to 6 demonstration sites to improve the quality of their local services to support people more effectively to lead meaningful and productive lives.

About Time

People who experience severe and enduring mental health problems have one of the lowest employment rates in the UK. But people with mental health problems have been increasingly rejecting traditional day services and sheltered work projects because they fail to offer them the support they need to live the lives they want.

About Time book coverWe developed and published About Time to show commissioners how they can turn their services around. It showed that involving service users from the start of a process of radical change is crucial to its success.

Supporting people into employment with IPS

Many people with mental health problems want to get back to work and with the right support many of them can. An alternative to day and vocational services, Individual Placement and Support (IPS), has been proved to be by far the most effective way to help people get and keep paid competitive employment.

Doing What Works book coverDoing What Works was the first of our publications on IPS and marked the establishment of our IPS and Centres of Excellence project.

We have selected nine sites to be Centres of Excellence. They will act as exemplars of how Individual Placement and Support (IPS) can be implemented in localities across England. The learning from these sites will be shared with other areas of England.


Diversion book coverDiversion finds that many opportunities for diversion are being missed and too little is being done to ensure that offenders with mental health problems make continuing use of community mental health services. The report looks at the evidence on outcomes and the effectiveness of diversion, it includes information from site visits and looks at whether diversion is good value for money.

Blurring the Boundaries

Blurring the Boundaries book coverThe convergence of mental health and criminal justice policy, legislation, systems and practice. This report shows that a convergence is taking place between mental health and criminal justice. It summarises the benefits and the risks of convergence and is intended to inform policy-makers and practitioners about where convergence can be useful and where caution is required.