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Treating and preventing mental ill-health

450 million people

affected by mental ill health globally

£23bn

The cost to the UK economy of work absence due to mental ill health

75%

of mental health problems begin in childhood

only 6%

of NHS mental health funding goes to children and adolescents

Get involved

Take on The Great York Walk and help create a Mentally Fit York.

"We are losing incredibly experienced and valuable individuals who would make excellent nurses, purely because they can’t access financial support. A scholarship for mental health nursing students would make a massive difference to students at York."

Molly Crosland, Nursing (Mental Health)

Tell me more

Preventing mental ill-health

In the last 14 years mental ill-health has risen by around 50%. These statistics need to change.

Our ambition is to develop more new preventative techniques to reduce the cases of mental ill health and its impact. We approach the challenge from all angles, working with medics and digital technologists, economists and data scientists and in partnership with the NHS and the third sector, to help prevent mental ill health at all stages of life.

"It's really important that we get the best research, so that we can implement the best interventions and create the optimum conditions for people to be able to thrive."
Cliff Riordan, Lecturer, Department of Health Sciences.

Cliff Riordan, Lecturer, Department of Health Sciences.

We need to understand mental health problems as a society better. Whether we are experts or not we do need to be able to talk to each other about emotions and support each other. We all have a role to play.

Professor Barry Wright

Unlimited researchers

Nowadays well over 50 percent of serious adult mental health problems start in childhood.

Professor Barry Wright is pioneering a new LEGO-based therapy that is specifically designed to make social interactions interesting to a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

His study involves three children with autism coming together and playing Lego in a very co-operative way. One of them will look at the instructions and tell the second one to go and find a particular piece and that second one will find the particular piece and give it to the third one who will build it. This resembles an engineer, a supplier and a builder within the workplace. From this, they learn cooperation, social reciprocity, they learn to play together and learn about support and respect, in a fun, interesting environment.

Barry believes people on the autism spectrum bring something to society that is supportive of evolution and to society.
"If you look at who designs and builds computers and who works in a lot of our law departments, our archaeology departments or mathematics, they have higher rates of people on the autism spectrum. I think we need to look at some identified mental health problems a new way and see some neurodevelopmental differences as part of society.”

It is estimated that approximately 1.6% of people in the UK have ASD which causes difficulties with social interaction, communication and behaviour, often resulting in the child feeling socially isolated and anxious. Barry hopes his research can be a preventative measure for further illness (such as anxiety) as an adult and that children will not only learn the necessary skills but also be able adopt them in their daily lives.

Barry Wright, Professor of Child Mental Health

How can I help?

  • Give £60,000 to fund a PHD scholarship, enabling vital research to transform mental health.
  • Give £6,000 to develop the mental health practitioners of tomorrow, with a scholarship for a student mental health nurse.

To find out more and support this area, please contact Sarah Sylvester (sarah.sylvester@york.ac.uk) Associate Director and Head of Individual Giving.