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The importance of mental health charities in times of crisis

How has support for mental health charities shifted in recent years and what must non-profits do to foster brand love? We draw upon data from the previous quarter to reveal the extent that crises have impacted sufferers of mental health conditions, and how it has shaped the public’s willingness (and ability) to provide support to charities within this sector.

Edward Weston Executive 24/05/2023
The current picture

In the UK, the prevalence of mental health disorders among children and young people has increased from 12.1% in 2017 to 18% in 2022, with anxiousness levels rising by 14% amongst those aged 16-24 between 2015 and 2022 (according to Savanta’s Gen Z insight tracker, State of the Youth Nation).

Those who are socio-economically disadvantaged are at a higher risk of suffering from mental health conditions, according to The Department of Health & Social Care’s Mental Health and wellbeing plan.

This report highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic heightened cases, with depression affecting one in five adults in Britain in 2021 (double pre-pandemic figures), and around one in six (16%) when the cost-of-living crisis peaked at the end of 2022.

The role of charity

Whilst the UK Government has opted to invest a further £2.3 billion to enhance NHS mental health services, the role of providing mental health support does not rely solely on government intervention.

Increased public awareness of mental wellbeing and the de-stigmatisation of mental health continues to be a primary focus of mental health charities, who have experienced a steady increase in brand love since the start of 2022 (according to data from BrandVue Charities, Savanta’s leading brand tracker).

Brand affinity across the wider non-profit sector shows a similar picture. But, there has been a noticeable increase in brand love for mental health-focused non-profits, most notably Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, and C.A.L.M.

Heavy hearts and tight pockets

During Q3-Q4 2021 (when the COVID-19 pandemic was still widespread), support for mental health charities was at its highest. highlighting the perceived value of these charities during times of crisis.

However, the percentage of those who supported a charity in the past 12 months has decreased. This can be attributed to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, which has adversely affected the financial capacity of benefactors to provide support.

Sampling lapsed UK benefactors, BrandVue Charities revealed that the top reasons for not supporting a mental health charity during the last quarter were:

  • ‘Cannot guarantee disposable income (35%)
  • ‘Do not want to make a lasting financial commitment’ (30%).

Uncertainty around disposable income amidst the current climate has also set a precedent for future support, with the percentage of lapsed donors who would continue supporting mental health charities in the future also declining.

Yet despite the decline in fiscal support, mental health remains front-of-mind with Gen Z, who have shown a 12% increase in concern over their own wellbeing since 2018. Similarly, the number of those not concerned with their mental health saw a decline of 11%.

Interestingly however, whilst in Q1 16-34-year-olds were the most likely to support a mental health charity in the last 12 months, it is the 50-59 age group that were most likely to support these charities in the future.

What’s driving support?

The primary motivation for consumers to support a mental health charity last quarter was their ‘individual connection to the cause,’ closely followed by ‘personal experiences of friends or family’.

Our data highlights that media coverage has limited effectiveness in driving support for mental health charities. While 18% of individuals support charities based on exposure to TV ads or other media coverage, this percentage decreases to 13% and 14% respectively for mental health charities.

 Winning over patrons: transitioning from raising awareness to gaining support

Support for health charities was amplified during the pandemic, as public health became a top priority. But how do you maintain brand love in a challenging economic climate?

We know that the relationship between charities and their supporters is often full of personal meaning. Investment in media spend (particularly during occasions such as Mental Health Awareness Week) may therefore not foster the deep, emotional connections needed to win over support in times of economic crisis.

This spring, Savanta launched the new BrandVue’s Most Loved Charities report, revealing the top 100 most loved charities in the UK. Download the full, free report to see who is winning the hearts of UK charity supporters – and importantly, why.

For more information on the charity sector, or to discover how we can support your non-profit in this current climate, please get in touch at [email protected]

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