We believe that every person has the right to quality mental health support where and when they need it 

Global Mental Health - I&I 2

Ben walking along a road

We want people with mental health problems to be able to access the support they need to recover.

A football team chats around a table

We want people with mental health problems to be empowered to speak out and to live free from stigma and discrimination.


  • Globally, mental health problems affect one in ten people at any given time[1], making mental health problems one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

  • It is both a cause and consequence of many of the other issues people experience across the world, leading to vicious cycles of discrimination, disadvantage and injustice.

  • In developing countries, up to 85% of people don’t receive adequate treatment for their mental health problems and even in high income countries this figure can be as high as 50%[2] This can be because services do not exist, are inaccessible and/or are poor quality. Often services are underfunded with insufficient numbers of trained mental health workers available to meet need.

a community football match


Catching problems early is crucial and we’re looking to fund new and innovative ways of increasing access to effective support, including digital projects. 

  • We want to support proven approaches that are ready to expand their activities. 

  • We think it’s important to invest in low-cost and community-based approaches, so people can be supported to help each other, and we know that alternative approaches such as sport and art can be effective. 

  • Central to Comic Relief’s approach to mental health care, particularly across the globe, is continuing to tackle

    stigma and discrimination, and dispelling myths, among both communities and health workers. 

Kate standing with her family at the seaside


Through partnerships, we are interested in contributing to change in the following areas:

  • Improving the mental health and supportive networks of people experiencing or at risk of poor mental health, esp

    ecially those from marginalised groups 

  • Increasing the accessibility and appropriateness of mental health support services to the people who need them

  • Increasing the evidence of appropriate and effective models of care and treatment in different settings and for different groups of people

  • Growing the social movement of people with lived experience who are empowered to advocate for change

  • Shifting attitudes that create stigma and discrimination around mental health, enabling people suffering from poor mental health to feel less isolated and alone

  • Contributing to the development and implementation of effective policies so mental health systems better meet people’s needs.

Ben sharing a laugh with a careworker in Kenya


Mental health has been a priority for Comic Relief’s funding in the UK for over ten years, and we want to continue to build on this. To date our investment has focused on four main areas:

  • Services that engage young people and support their wellbeing e.g., sport, music and art therapies and activities accessed in a ‘youth work’ setting.

  • Therapeutic services (complimenting statutory provision), including talking therapies, counselling and peer support services.

  • Campaigning and public policy change projects which push for people with mental health problems to have a voice in their treatment and to get access to the services they need. 

  • Anti-stigma and discrimination campaign work (e.g. Time to Change). We have made exceptional progress in this area in the UK over the last 10 years and will prioritise these approaches internationally where it is crucially needed.

Since 2016 our strategy has focused on improving services where we have identified a real gap. This includes a focus on making sure women receive mental health care and support during pregnancy and in the first year after giving birth in the UK.

Since 2018 we have supported organisations providing targeted support to young men experiencing poor mental health.

See our other focus areas

Other Focus Areas - I&I Global Mental Health

Children Survive and Thrive

Safety & Equality for Women and Girls

A safe place to be, for everyone