The future of The Mental Elf

Mental Elf - thank you

At the end of 2023, we launched a campaign to Save The Mental Elf. If you missed the blog post back then, here’s what we said:

“My business partner Douglas Badenoch and I have previously worked for the NHS and at Oxford University. In 2002 we set up a company and we started working with charities, universities and the health service. This business is still going today, but like many small businesses we have found the last few years really hard.

We’ve funded The Mental Elf for the last 12 years out of our own pockets. It’s important to us that The Mental Elf remains an independent, trusted brand, but it costs about £50k a year to keep the site running, and right now, at the end of 2023, we’re really struggling to make ends meet. We need your help.”

Thank you for your kindness and support

We had an amazing response to this call for help. Over 150 people donated to our fundraising campaign, which raised over £4k and was vital in keeping the website going through the winter months. We also had hundreds of messages of support from people who told us how important the Mental Elf is to them and how much they would miss us if we disappeared.

A huge thanks to everyone who donated or sent kind messages to keep us going. Your help and support really means a lot!

We said in our blog post back in December: “We hope that we can look back on this time in years to come, as the moment when our community of bloggers, supporters and followers, all came together to save The Mental Elf and keep it online.” Today we have some exciting news!

Securing the future of The Mental Elf

At the same time as trying to raise funds from our community, we also had lots of conversations with key people and organisations in mental health science. We spoke to mental health research funders, to universities and charities; exploring the different options available to us as we try to make the future of our platform sustainable. Thanks very much to everyone who offered advice and gave up their time so generously to help steer our thinking. You know who you are!

We are delighted to announce today that the Mental Elf has received a 3-year discretionary award from the Wellcome Trust, which will make it possible for us to continue running the website as we have been doing for the last few years. We are extremely grateful to Wellcome for this show of support, which is especially important for us as it allows us to retain our independence. Wellcome were clear from the very start of our conversations that they do not want any involvement in how the platform is run, the topics we choose to cover, the papers we select to blog, or the people we ask to write blogs. They simply want to ensure that we remain trusted and respected.

The Mental Elf plays a unique role in the mental health community, with its principles of clear communication, inclusivity, and intellectual rigour. Wellcome is delighted to provide support for its continuing work as a valued independent voice in the field.
– Niall Boyce, Head of Field Building – Mental Health, Wellcome Trust

Growing up and reaching out

The Mental Elf has just turned thirteen and so we have a rollercoaster of adolescent years ahead of us. With this core funding in place we are now able to get our core team back up to full strength (see here if you want to become a freelance Elf Coordinator) and we now have the headspace to plan how we would like to grow this platform over the next few years. We have some exciting ideas in the pipeline that we’ll be announcing soon, so watch this space for news.

In the meantime, if there are ways that we can support your work, please ask for some #ElfHelp. You may be working on a research project that needs help building an online presence or disseminating findings, you may need some training in social media or critical appraisal, you may need videos, podcasts or graphics to help get your message out there, or you may have an event that you want us to amplify. Whatever you need, if you work in mental health, you can commission our Mental Elf team to work alongside you.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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