At Maanch, we have been working to help create a Mental Health Dashboard for one of our partner organisations Kokoro. Kokoro is a mental health not-for-profit that runs the Future Mental Health Collective. This is a global peer-to-peer network that supports individual, family and corporate philanthropists who fund mental health services. They believe in the power of radical collaboration. Thereby they asked Maanch to help them along in this journey of convening.
We asked them a few questions about Mental Health. The vision for their product and the main challenges faced by the sector. Here is their testimony:
What was the problem you were trying to solve that led to the vision behind the product?
Effective collaboration within the philanthropy sector is a challenge that a lot of funders face. This is certainly the case for mental health, itself a sector that is very fragmented. For funders of mental health, the level of global need can oftentimes feel overwhelming. Knowing who or where to turn to for support and advice is no easy task. This lack of transparency has made collaboration extremely difficult. Leading to high levels of duplication and silo-working, and, in turn, stunting significant progress within the mental health field.
Why Mental Health? Tell us a little more about why you started and where you are today with your mission?
Poor mental health is one of the world’s most serious challenges, affecting around one in four of us every year. It is also one of the world’s most complex challenges. As it is both a cause and symptom of multiple other areas of development. At Kokoro, we believe that by improving global mental health services, we can build the foundation for a safer, kinder, and more productive world. We are using the heightened awareness around mental health to accelerate private funding for mental health services around the world. Also critically make the case for integrating mental health services into the work that private sector leaders do to support the Sustainable Development Goals.
One initiative we set up last year, to help us achieve this, is the Future Mental Health Collective; a global peer-to-peer network for private funders and philanthropists that are investing in mental health services. We are now a group of about 65 funders. We come together to share, learn and listen to each other about what is working. Where there are gaps in the field. How we can collaborate to reduce duplication, accelerate impact and supercharge each other’s efforts.
What is the main challenge in allocating funding to specific causes, especially mental health?
The funding gap in mental health is huge. Despite the increased attention around mental health in recent years, mental health services remain chronically underfunded across the world. Just to give you a couple of statistics… countries on average still spend less than 2% of their health budgets on mental health. And only 0.5% of philanthropic health funding currently goes to this cause. Last year, our founder, Natasha Müller, together with Arabella Advisors and United for Global Mental Health, carried out some research to better understand why there continues to be such a significant gap in funding. The research showed that the main challenges and barriers currently stopping philanthropists from giving to mental health include; uncertainty around knowing what to give to in mental health; lack of actionable data informing impact; and practical barriers to giving, especially globally.
How will the mental health dashboard benefit your community?
This dashboard was created for the private use of our Future Mental Health Collective members. By showing how and where members are positioned within mental health. This tool will help to reinforce our Collective of funders by empowering them to make better sense of the field. Foster a global sense of community, in what can otherwise be a lonely sector, and most importantly inspire radical collaboration. More specifically, the dashboard will give our members insight into the specific focus areas and audiences each other is funding, the geographies being covered, and how their work in mental health overlaps with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
What sort of frameworks or measurements did you use in the past, and how will the Dashboard facilitate this process?
We didn’t because no form of mapping existed! With so much growing attention and momentum in mental health it is hard to keep track of who is doing what and where we need to be turning our efforts. By mapping out who is focusing on what, the dashboard will allow funders to better identify where there are gaps. Also, where there are fellow funders who may wish to collaborate.
What is your hope for the future of Mental Health and the Collective?
Our mission with the Collective is to make existing mental health funding as effective as it possibly can be. Moreover, help those who are new to funding mental health to get up and running quickly. Including those who are integrating mental health into other SDG work. For example, by connecting new funders with those who are further along a similar journey. Ultimately, we hope that by coordinating action and building up collective power we can help to reverse the chronic underfunding that currently thwarts progress.
When it comes to mental health, there remains a lot of work to be done. Our hope is that by combining forces and taking collaboration to new levels. We can accelerate our learning from other sectors, countries, and specialisms. We can make the systemic links that are needed across the SDGs. And we can catalyse action well beyond our own individual reach.
How did you find yourself working with the Maanch team?
One word: Fantastic!! The team was extremely involved from the outset and their high level of expertise shone through at all stages. We went to them with a vision, and they helped turn it into a reality. One that we could not be happier with. So, thank you Maanch team and we look forward to continuing our work together!