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United Kingdom

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United Kingdom

UK financing table

The UK spent US$19.4 billion on official development assistance (ODA) in 2019, has met the 0.7% gross national income (GNI)/ODA target since 2013, and is the second largest donor to global health (behind the US). However, the UK has announced that the aid budget will decrease to 0.5% of GNI for 2021. 

In 2020, the Department for International Development (DFID) merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to form the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).  The UK’s development strategy, (published under the previous government in 2015) has four key priorities: 1) strengthening global security; 2) resilience and response to crisis; 3) promoting global prosperity; and  4) tackling extreme poverty. Global health security and strengthening global health systems are also key issues. The FCDO is set to release a new strategy framework to guide ODA. 

The UK remains a top donor in mental health and has demonstrated strong interest in mental health issues. The UK is part of the Alliance of Champions for Mental Health and Wellbeing and hosted the first ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in London in October 2018.

Global mental health support

Currently, the FCDO does not have a mental health budget but programmes have mental health elements and piggyback on humanitarian, educational, and crisis recovery programmes. Examples include: 1) support to WHO for the Syria crisis to provide trauma care and mental health and psychosocial support services to those who have been affected by the conflict, 2) the project Improving the Quality of Education for Syrian and Jordanian Early Grade Primary School Children focuses on improving psychosocial well-being of children, and 3) funding a maternal and mental health programme in Ghana in partnership with BasicNeeds, enhancing maternal mental health and livelihoods of vulnerable pregnant women. This has resulted in the formulation of a Northern Region Alliance of Mental Health in Ghana. 

Other examples include the UK match fund support to civil society organisations (CSOs) operating in Sub-Saharan Africa (Red Nose Day), the ‘leave no one behind’ project in Ghana, and in Namibia offering mental health training to prison officers.

The UK is a member of the Alliance of Champions for Mental Health and Wellbeing, and the MHPSS donor group.

Strategy for global mental health

The FCDO does not have a specific mental health strategy. However, in the past, DFID released Disability Inclusion Strategy 2018 to 2023 which includes mental health and psychosocial disabilities as a cross cutting issue and claims that the UK: “...will also step up as a global leader to provide inclusive and accessible mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in conflict and emergencies.”

Before merging with the FCO, DFID also finalised a rights-based mental health Theory of Change designed to advise development actors how to better integrate, evaluate and scale up contributions to mental health.

Domestic mental health

Within the UK, interest in mental health is gaining support and profile with the Heads Together campaign, Time to Change campaign, CALM, parliamentarians, the Chief Medical Officer’s report on mental health, and Improving Access to Psychological Therapies IAPT program. According to the Mental Health Five Year Forward plan dashboard, domestic mental health funding (including learning disabilities and dementia) has risen from £10,979m in 2015/16 to £12,513m for 2018/19. Further resources can be found in the OECD Mental Health Analysis Profiles (MhAPs) England and Scotland, and the WHO MiNDbank.

Key stakeholders

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) leads on strategy and funding priorities for UK development assistance

The UK is a member of the Alliance of Champions for Mental Health and Wellbeing, and the MHPSS donor group.

Member of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL).

Key decision makers

Prime Minister: Boris Johnson

Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs: Dominic Raab

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: Matt Hancock

Financing global mental health

According to IHME data, from 2007 - 2019, the UK contributed USD $98.8 million in development assistance to health (DAMH). This figure is only representative of government resources.

UK financing table 2


Global health overview

The UK provided US$2.4 billion on health ODA in 2016 (13% of total ODA) and is the second largest donor to global health behind the US. Some 59% of 2016 health ODA went to bilaterals and 41% went to multilaterals as core contributions.

The UK has made pledges and contributions to the following to global initiatives:

UK multilateral 4.21