"Of all the organisations, colleges, government bodies etc, I believe that the CMH reports are some of the most useful, accessible, influential and groundbreaking reports out there. I think the CMH urgently needs to continue this fantastic work and could expand even further if provided more funding. This is a very well-respected organisation with a great track record, producing some really useful work."

"The Centre for Mental Health has an impressive track record for translating complex issues in mental health into accessible briefings that can be readily understood and applied by clinicians, practitioners, commissioners and policy makers."

Responses from our survey of practitioners, commissioners and policy makers in 2014

Our development

We started life in March 1985 as the National Unit for Psychiatric Research and Development (NUPRD), founded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Our aim was to improve mental health by working in a different way to other organisations, linking up academic research with everyday practice and policy.

In February 1992, we became Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. Sainsbury Centre was at the heart of developing and helping to implement the National Service Framework for Mental Health, creating new services to support young people in their first episode of psychosis and to help people in a crisis.

From 2006, we changed our work to focus on two key areas: employment and criminal justice. In 2007, we launched a new look and logo to accompany this change in our focus.

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation provided the Centre's core funding each year from 1985 to 2010. In 2009, it announced that it would be spending out its funds in following few years, and generously provided us with a final grant so that we could make plans for new working arrangements. Since July 2010, we have been known as Centre for Mental Health.

The Centre is now an entirely independent charity, working to create a fairer chance in life for people with mental health problems through life-changing research.

Key work

In our 30 years of innovative work, we have always tried to do things differently to other organistions, by finding gaps in knowledge or services and researching what would work best.

There are many examples of how we've changed the mental health landscape in the UK, but here are just a few:

Assertive outreach, early intervention and crisis resolution

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 and beyond. Our work heralded the development of assertive outreach for people with severe mental health problems who were not in regular contact with services; Early Intervention in Psychosis teams for young people with mental health problems; and crisis resolution teams to support people in their own homes during periods of acute illness.

Inequalities in mental health care

Our 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 ground-breaking report remains relevant more than a decade later.

Making Recovery a Reality

In 2008, we showed that mental health services needed to change radically to focus on recovery. Our seminal paper, Making Recovery a Reality, called on mental health services to put users in control of the support they receive and to focus on helping people build lives on their own terms.

Since 2008, we have worked with the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network to put these ideas into practice. More than half of NHS mental health trusts in England, and service providers across the UK, have benefited from our support to set up Recovery Colleges, make inpatient wards safer and to create new roles for Peer Support Workers.

Supporting people into employment

Less than 10% of people using mental health services are in paid jobs, yet we know that many more want the chance to work, and with the right support they can. 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.

The Centre has helped mental health and employment services across the UK to adopt the principles of IPS and get more people into work. We have enabled hundreds of people who would otherwise miss the chance to work to gain paid employment by helping local services to adopt IPS

Criminal justice and mental health

In 2006, the Centre launched a major new work programme to improve mental health support in the criminal justice system. We found that too many people with mental health problems were being imprisoned because their needs were not identified or there was no support in the community.

Since 2008, the Centre has supported the development of liaison and diversion services in police stations and courts to help to put this right. We created a new approach to liaison and diversion specifically for children and young people and we are now supporting NHS England in its programme to divert people of all ages in police stations and courts across the country.

Economic analysis

The Centre’s distinctive work in recent years has included extensive analysis of the economic impact of mental health problems and the clear benefits of faster and better responses to people’s needs. In 2003, the Centre produced the first estimate of the economic and social costs of mental ill health in England, which in 2010 we updated to £105 billion a year. We have also identified the annual costs of mental health problems to UK employers (£26 billion) and the costs of perinatal mental ill health (£8 billion).

This work has helped to bring about much-needed investment in mental health support where we have demonstrated the benefits of effective interventions.


Last updated: 1st October, 2019