Blog | Children and Young People

Changing the Story on mental health

Rebecca Gray, Chief Executive of Maudsley Charity blogs about the launch of a pioneering fundraising campaign to change the lives of children and young people and the power of partnership working.

3 minute read

Rebecca Gray

Chief Executive, Maudsley Charity

Rebecca is chief executive of Maudsley Charity. She is responsible for developing the charity’s strategic aims, leading its involvement in major projects and overseeing grant making and governance.

One of the most inspiring things about working at the Maudsley Charity is the unique environment we operate in, we work closely with two leading organisations, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. These organisations work together to combine basic and translational health research, clinical care and education to create world-leading improvements in mental healthcare.

This partnership is born out of the mission of Henry Maudsley who, with others, founded the Maudsley Hospital nearly 100 years ago, to provide the best possible care for patients using the best possible science and education. The golden thread of this unique collaboration continues today. We and our partners, approach this in the context of the 21st century, by recognising and promoting the role of people who have lived experience, in thinking about solutions to the challenges of mental illness and by bringing together clinicians and scientists who take cutting edge research and developments that can be quickly applied to clinical care. Add to this the rich diversity of our local communities and pioneering community organisations, and you can get a sense of what a unique and special environment this is.

It’s with this background of collaboration and shared history that we launch our first collective major fundraising campaign for Children and Young people. The timing couldn’t be more critical or the need more evident. Even before COVID there has been huge inequality and constraints to young people accessing much needed mental health care.

Change the Story banner 3 Children statistic

‘Change the Story’ – our new campaign will help engage young people earlier on, through an ambitious schools and community programme, bring together research teams to advance our ability to prevent the development of mental illness, support, clinical innovation, and deliver specialist services in a purpose designed environment – all of which I believe will contribute to supporting generations of children now and in the future.

We know that these are key areas of concern for the people who have engaged with our campaign so far, we’ve been fortunate to have already generated over £10m in donations from trusts, foundations and high net worth individuals – and the launch of our public campaign enables us to raise the profile of Change the Story more widely and ask for public support.

The truth is this work matters to everyone. We know that 50% of adult mental health conditions begin before the age of 14, so if we can intervene early, we can reduce the number of people who have to live a whole lifetime of mental illness. I am reminded of a member of staff working in NHS older adult services who once told me she thought about her patients who have lived with serious mental illness all of their lives, and what difference intervention could have made to many of them at the age of seven rather than 70.

As the Maudsley Charity we have existed since 1247, our work is about both the long term and the immediate. Change the Story underlines both our commitment to here and now and future generations. Working together with two pioneering organisations I am excited by what we can achieve and the difference it will make.