IfM Roadmapping for Mental Health

Over the last half-century, great strides have been made to increase global life expectancy with better methods to prevent and treat infectious and chronic diseases. Death as a direct or indirect consequence of mental illness and distress continues to pose a significant public health challenge that devastates families and communities.


In a new paper in The Lancet Psychiatry, 40 global experts set out concrete solutions to prevent premature mortality from mental illness and distress. The paper places particular emphasis on suicide but also on physical health problems that often accompany mental illness and that shorten the lifespan.


With a substantial number of unique contributors with different perspectives to offer, the review work required a clearly defined strategy. The paper followed an extensive roadmapping process of evidence reviews and consultation with mental health researchers, clinicians, policy experts and people with lived and living experiences of mental illnesses and suicide.


Nicky Athanassopoulou from IfM Engage, the knowledge-transfer arm of the IfM, led the roadmapping process that underpinned the collaboration, all the way from the development of scope and framework to the write-up.


“It was great to see how a technology and innovation management method (S-Plan roadmapping) could be used to address such a complex and multidisciplinary topic,” she said.


“The process involved collaboration among a multidisciplinary global team of academic, policy, clinical, lived and living experience experts and led to actionable solutions.”


The paper exemplifies the merits of roadmapping for complex projects with its capacity to steer a diverse group of stakeholders in the same direction.


People with any mental illness have a significantly lower life expectancy than those without. Suicide is among the top 20 causes of death worldwide, and many people with mental illness have their physical health problems attributed to existing mental health conditions. With expertise drawn from clinical practice, research, policy, and life with mental illness, the paper sets out ambitious goals for implementing concrete solutions and calls on government policymakers to coordinate their response to the mental health challenges we face nationally and globally. The paper also challenges the private sector, such as social media companies and employers, to make changes now to save lives in the future.


At the end of the paper, its takeaways are distilled into 18 actionable solutions. Among them is the call to move away from research silos to a collaborative mode of working – one of the central points also made in the recently published ‘Changing Minds, Changing Lives’ report from the William Templeton Foundation for Young People’s Mental Health and published in collaboration with the IfM. With people working together across disciplines, both publications express hope that more people can live happy, healthy lives.


Find out more about roadmapping and why it’s used to bring clarity to complex problems and alignment of purpose here.


Date published

12 May 2023

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