Mental health and wellbeing

Mental health and wellbeing

Providing better support for mental health and wellbeing

committed to charities and social enterprises


people signed up to access online support for their mental health

of investments ahead or on track to deliver social impact


One in four adults and 10% of children experience mental health issues. People from a disadvantaged background are disproportionately affected by mental health issues and 90% of people with a mental health problem experience stigma and discrimination.

Social investment is supporting social business models that are building evidence for digital and community-based support for people experiencing mental health issues and providing housing and support to people with learning disabilities, piloting and scaling preventative rather than acute mental health provision. Revenue is generally generated from commissioned services including outcomes-based payments.

High-quality impact measurement is essential in this area to understand changes for patients and clients and to secure contracts from commissioners. However, standardisation of metrics is a challenge due to the wide range of needs that are supported.  It is also difficult to get funding for independent evaluations that gather robust evidence to demonstrate the impact of a service. 

Further information is available on our social issue page for health and social care

Harrogate Skills 4 Living Centre

Social impact

Testing digital support for those with dementia

Impact Ventures UK and Bridges Ventures have both invested in Unforgettable which was set up by the founder after his own experience of caring for his mother with dementia. It aims to improve the lives of people living with memory loss and dementia by bringing together specialised products, practical advice and a supportive community which generates revenue from product sales. Unforgettable has now raised £3.8m investment from social investors and also from international venture capital funds. Impact is measured through a rating system on the website and telephone interviews with customers, with 10% of profits going to the Unforgettable Foundation. 

Supporting adults with learning disabilities

The Harrogate Skills 4 Living Centre provides quality care as well as essential lifelong skills to over 90 adults with learning disabilities. Social and Sustainable Capital provided a £1 million loan to help HS4LC purchase two care homes that were in administration. The revenue generated from care fees will help to fund new services such as housing-related support, workshop and training and employment opportunities for their clients.   The health and wellbeing outcomes star is used to measure the impact of services on clients. 

Early intervention to reduce loneliness

The Reconnections social impact bond aims to tackle loneliness for 3,000 older people in Worcestershire and received investment from Nesta Impact Investments and the Care and Wellbeing Fund. Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire deliver support to help older people overcome social barriers, make meaningful connections and engage with activities to address isolation. Revenue is generated by outcome payments from the commissioners. One of the initial challenges facing the project was recruiting volunteers which has been resolved by developing an online system which matches volunteers and clients. So far, 1,244 people have been referred to the programme and there have been significant reductions in loneliness. 


Social investment can help organisations build an evidence base for new approaches to managing mental health, such as social prescribing, where patients are linked with sources of support within their community. However, the time and cost needed to develop viable models with multiple commissioners can be a barrier.

Through intermediaries we have backed several technology solutions that support people with their mental health needs, like BuddyApp and Big White Wall, but the interventions have yet to develop sufficient evidence for commissioners to buy them at large scale. Social ventures in this area need substantial and patient risk capital to give them the time they need to grow an evidence base and build the relationships they need with commissioners to secure contracts. 

As in the physical health outcome area, the profit margins from delivering mental health services can be low: surpluses are sometimes less than 1% of revenues generated. This can make it difficult for charities and social enterprises (including those that spin out from the NHS) to take on repayable finance, or to invest to win new contracts or expand their operations in order to benefit from economies of scale.

This primarily reflects that personal budgets have not been deployed at substantial scale. There may be a need for more brokerage that allows beneficiaries to access a choice of services

The Reconnections Social Impact Bond was commissioned by Worcestershire County Council and three co-commissioners from Clinical Commissioning Groups. Social impact bonds can play an important role in coordinating and combining multiple budgets to provide preventative and / or long-term care support, especially in health and social care where budgets are over-stretched and commissioning boundaries are less clear.