Priority 5: Equitably fund research and data collection

This is the fifth of five priorities we've included in Preventing mental illness, our manifesto for the next UK General Election.

Prioritise mental health research and data collection to improve understanding and facilitate innovation

We know that research enhances clinical mental healthcare and improves outcomes for patients. However, mental health has seen a decade of sub-par funding compared with physical health, resulting in a relative delay in the development of new drugs, and clinical treatments for mental health conditions. There has also been a paucity of high-quality research into social interventions and epigenetic factors linking genomics with psychosocial variables.

Research funding is vital to the mental health ecosystem, but mental health research is underfunded relative to the burden of illness. In 2018, research analysis by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration showed that mental health research accounted for only 6.1% of the total UK health research budget1.

Substantial capital funding should be allocated to mental health trusts, health boards, and health and social care trusts, as well as higher education institutions, for research and development in mental health, including for the prevention agenda. Allocating additional funding for research studies, clinical trials, and technology-driven solutions can facilitate the development of innovative interventions, evidencebased practices, and improve modes of treatment. Collaboration between academia, healthcare providers, and industry will accelerate progress in understanding mental health conditions and developing more effective interventions. It is also important that existing mental health research is evaluated, with sufficient resource put in place, to effectively implement wellevidenced innovations.

While our manifesto endeavours to present statistics from across the UK where possible, comparable mental health data is not always available for each nation. Where there is an absence of nation-specific data, it is often necessary to use illustrative figures from England where there is generally a wider range of data available. Accurate data collection is a priority of the RCPsych, and we are of the view that systems for collection and interpretation of relevant mental health data need to be improved in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as a matter of equity.


  • Equitably fund mental health research to ensure we have a greater knowledge and understanding of effective evidence-based interventions, treatments and service models that contribute to preventing and treating mental illness and better patient experiences, recovery, and long-term outcomes.
  • Prioritise mental health research studies, clinical trials and technology-driven solutions to develop innovative interventions and treatment practices.
  • improve systems for mental health data collection and interpretation in those parts of the UK where sufficient data is not currently available.
  • Build academic capacity in the mental health workforce by encouraging clinicians to become research active but also properly funding the clinical academic pathway.


  1. UK Clinical Research Collaboration (2020) UK Health Research Analysis 2018
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