The Royal Foundation invests £2 million to back digital solutions for mental health

Françoise Facella
Communications & Events Officer
The Duke of Cambridge being presented with the Heads Together Data at the Data Observatory, Imperial College London

The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry is investing £2 million to establish a new start-up for digital mental health innovation, which will develop new digital tools to help people have conversations about mental health.

During its Heads Together campaign, The Royal Foundation has found that better tools are needed to help give people the confidence to start a conversation on mental health – whether in times of calm or times of crisis – and to be able have this conversation wherever they are and whenever they need to.

This new digital mental health start-up will be led by CEO Victoria Hornby and a Board made up of leading technology experts. The start-up will prioritise tools that could be of particular benefit to young people who are more likely to be seeking advice and help online and on their phones.

The funding announced today represents the largest single grant The Foundation has made since it commenced operations in 2011.

With the advice and support of its Heads Together partner charities, The Royal Foundation will also be investing in programmes to support better conversations on mental health in schools, workplaces, and within the defence community. Further announcements will be made in the year ahead.

Chris Martin, CEO of The Mix, said: “At The Mix we see on a daily basis the life-changing support that can be provided to young people through phone, digital and social media. The potential of these technologies is developing all the time and – increasingly – young people turn to these channels first when they are struggling. Now is the perfect moment for The Royal Foundation to help kick-start the creation of impactful new tools that will help young people have conversations about their mental health and find the support they need, when they need it.”

Sir Keith Mills, Chairman of The Royal Foundation said: “The Royal Foundation exists to bring together people with passion and expertise to take on challenges that are close to the heart of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry that is exactly what we are doing with today’s announcement. We are incredibly proud of the millions of conversations that our Heads Together campaign initiated on mental health. And we are delighted to be providing the seed funding for this new digital start-up that we hope will create new tools that will enable people to have conversations on mental health wherever they are and whenever they need to have them. We expect that the many of the tools developed by the start-up will be of enormous benefit to the UK’s incredible community of mental health charities.”

Victoria Hornby, CEO of the new startup said: “This new digital startup will bring together experts in mental health and technology to find and create new solutions. We want to use the power of technology to reach the millions of people, especially young people, who feel isolated and alone, and help them to find the right place to talk.”

More on the establishment of a centre for digital mental health innovations:

  • Rapidly evolving technology offers the potential for us to reach large number of people with tools to start conversations and get help, when and where they need this support.
    There is a need for new trusted and tested digital tools for mental health as currently, a search online can produce confusing, conflicting and potentially damaging information and advice.
  • Heads Together research shows that young people are more likely than any other age group to be having conversations about mental health using technology, including by phone, email or social media.
  • Around the world, the use of technology to reach those in need of help and support is showing promising outcomes and we want to make sure these advances are available to people in the UK.
  • Further information on the new digital start-up will be provided in due course. It is expected to be operational by January, 2018 with announcements about its first investments in digital tools made later in 2018.
  • The new CEO is Victoria Hornby, the former Director of Programmes at The Royal Foundation. Having worked on the development of programmes for mental health, and specifically on applications of technology in this area, she will drive this forward in her new role.

Media Enquiries

Please contact Françoise Facella at The Mix: media@themix.org.uk or call 07766 660 755.

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Published on 09-Oct-2017