Whether you’ve experienced anxiety, depression, disordered eating, schizophrenia or simply felt a period of prolonged loneliness and alienation, the issue of mental health touches us all.

Against a backdrop of existing social and economic inequalities, the global Covid pandemic has exacerbated mental health problems for the most vulnerable. Globally, those suffering from the impact of war, poverty, famine and climate change are those who suffer most acutely, both materially and psychologically. As with so many other issues, it is, therefore, the most vulnerable people and communities who should be at the forefront of philanthropy’s response.

But for too long, and for too many people, that has not been the case.

Could the Covid pandemic be the moment to crystallise change  in the scale and focus of funding for mental health around the world?

As this Alliance special feature highlights, mental health has been underserved even among foundations addressing health issues. That’s a discredit to philanthropy which at its best should be focused on mainstreaming neglected issues. But it is also an opportunity. As the WHO and national governments renew their focus on mental health, there are multiple opportunities for philanthropy to make a difference.

First, philanthropy should advocate to ensure that rhetorical commitments by governments to mental health are matched by public spending.

Second, philanthropy should use its influence to press for that spending to be targeted where evidence suggests it’s most needed, for example in research, prevention and treatments.

Third, philanthropic support in this area should tackle broader social and economic determinants of inequality. This could include campaigning for governments to provide more protections for their citizens for example through universal basic income and universal health coverage.

Finally, philanthropy should support calls for a three-day weekend – allowing people to enjoy leisure and nature with their friends and families, and the time and space to volunteer in their communities. While these ideas may seem utopian, foundations are ideally placed to support the development of new thinking and develop the policy work needed to overcome barriers to successful implementation.

Read the full article about mental health philanthropy by Charles Keidan at Alliance Magazine.