Funders will need to help mental health charities adapt to digital delivery


Alliance magazine


More funders are recognising the value and importance of digital work, but funder engagement with digital continues to lag behind need as charities struggle to secure money for digital services, particularly in the long-term, according to a new report by think tank New Philanthropy Capital.

The report, ‘Digital mental health services: The impact of Covid-19 on young people’s mental health’, reveals how the digital mental health landscape has changed amidst the pandemic, and what challenges and opportunities there are for charities and funders to support young people with mental health issues. The research shares insights from experts in the field about what to expect in 2021 and beyond, along with recommendations on what funders should do.

‘The landscape of digital mental health services has changed considerably since the outbreak of Covid-19. Lockdown has created new challenges for charities, whilst changes that were already starting to affect the digital mental health sector before the pandemic have been magnified,’ said Clare Wilkins, NPC’s Effective Philanthropy Principal.

It’s likely that charities will continue to make big changes in how they respond, said Wilkins. ‘Charities providing digital mental health services will almost certainly have to make further changes going forward, as they consider the sustainability of their funding and how to protect against staff burnout. Charities will need to co-ordinate their efforts to ensure a good variety of services is offered to those who need it, and that interaction is not solely online or solely over the phone. Charities who shifted to digital delivery will need to decide whether to carry on with this march to digital or resume face-to-face services.’

She continued: ‘Now more than ever, funders need to educate themselves on what good digital behaviour is. Digital services can be useful in many ways, but they will not suit everyone, so funders should make sure they are protecting offline, in-person options for those who need it.’

A survey by Alliance in October 2020 found that more than half of respondents reported that the mental health and well-being of people in their organisation had deteriorated since the Covid-19 pandemic started, making the flexibility of mental health providers to adapt to digital modes of delivery more important than ever.

‘Digital mental health services: The impact of Covid-19 on young people’s mental health’ is available here. The research was funded by Nominet.

Tagged in: Covid-19

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