Keeping it together - mental health report

25% Londoners experience a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. Three children in every classroom have problems with their mental health and one in six people over the age of 16 have a common mental disorder. Mental ill health now amounts to nearly half of all ill health among people under 65. But only one in four Londoners with mental health problems receives treatment.

Mental ill health in our capital is on the rise, but services are unable to meet demand. This leaves many Londoners unattended and at risk of deteriorating mental health. One in ten people have been waiting for over a year to receive treatment. More than half of people are not offered a choice in the type of therapies they receive and three in four Londoners are not given a choice as to where they receive treatment.

Now more than ever we need to work with communities and help build resilience so that all Londoners have the opportunity to thrive.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Increasingly, community-based organisations (CBOs) fill the gaps left by strained public services. CBOs close the gaps in the current system and they do this well. They can often respond more quickly and flexibly to the complex landscape of mental health needs. They know their communities and are aware of local needs.

But what makes these organisations so important to Londoners? How are they able to support people suffering from deteriorating mental health? Is their approach to mental health and wellbeing different to clinical settings? And if so, in what ways?

In 2017, The London Community Foundation funded nearly 950 projects from charities and CBOs across London. We have unparalleled access to groups tackling a variety of social issues. We used this access to speak to a variety of organisations supporting individuals suffering from mental health problems.

We spoke to eight CBOs as well as network and national organisations to understand how they are tailoring their services and using their assets to improve mental health. We use their views to show how, at their best, CBOs are making a significant difference to the mental health in Londoners.

Our main findings are:

  • CBOs can excel in providing non-clinical support. They focus on a positive physical space and staff dedicated to building personal and trusting relationships.
  • The individual is at the centre of an organisation’s activities. Unlike many statutory services, they can offer flexible, targeted and quick support to Londoners in need.
  • They work to prevent mental ill health by increasing awareness and reducing stigma in their communities. This is likely to have a long-term impact on a variety of different challenges facing communities across London.

To learn more about our findings, download the full report, 'Keeping it together - How community-based organisations are supporting London's mental health' below.