Engaging the public to secure millions in mental health research funding

Public engagement &
mental health research

Discovery of researchers’ and participants’ needs to enable broader community engagement

LovedBy were asked to help Wellcome Trust improve the way mental health research it commissions is conducted. By introducing our human-centred approach and engaging with community stakeholders, we enabled them to understand the problems researchers and participants were experiencing and how to design solutions accordingly.

Our work included:

  • Introduction of human-centred mindsets, tools and frameworks
  • Collaborative design sprints
  • Field research and stakeholder engagement
  • Rapid prototyping of research tools
  • Final research report for funding bid


Enable young people across the globe with depression or anxiety to co-produce research

Changing the way people engage with mental health research is a formidable task. Ethical requirements and public unawareness of the field create a separation between those researching and those able to help. Wellcome’s ambition and challenge to us was: “How can we make public engagement a core part of mental health science?”


A human-centred approach, grounded in expertise, empathy and lived experience

To tackle the above design challenge we took a human-centred approach, synthesised findings and broke into sub teams to maintain collaborative pace. We spoke to people with lived experience, interviewed experts, experienced best-in-class products, created prototypes and facilitated workshops to inform understanding.

We mapped the mental health science landscape across geographies and created personas, mindset flow diagrams and experience maps to shape our thinking. This allowed us to look at our design challenge from the lens of the organisation, academic researchers, patients and general public.


Build a working platform prototype to gain further insights from participants and learn-by-doing

To test assumptions, tackle secondary design challenges and gain new insight we created a clickable prototype of a mental health research platform. It was a low-risk way to have a tangible discussion point with participants and inform next actions.

Facts about the prototype:

  • Ideated on paper sketches and then made interactive quickly
  • Validated the preference for calming and reassuring style
  • Unearthed preferences around security and privacy
  • Friendly visual style animations were considered inclusive
  • Tested with people in the UK, USA, Canada & Costa Rica
  • Tested in a co-creative workshop with participants who had lived experience Collected remote user testing videos with people’s feedback on the concept


A successful multi-million pound research bid backed by rich, people-focused insights

Insights from this project informed a successful multi-million pound research bid for future resource allocation and helped Wellcome Trust prioritise initiatives to ensure the mental health science it commissions is always centred around real human needs.


  • The toolkit we provided enabled Wellcome Trust to narrow the gap between looking for mental health help and contributing personal experience to develop the knowledge in the field.

  • Our toolkit was first launched during a collaborative ideation session with the UK-based charities McPin Foundation, MQ Mental Health, YoungMinds.

  • Our work amplified the voice of the public by leveraging platform technologies to crowdsource ideas, data and participation from around the world.

“Everything we did [on this project] was based on the customer, colleague and business issues. There was no point in designing a solution that left any one of those groups out, if it failed for one it would fail for all.”

Toni Brasting

Public Engagement Head, Wellcome Trust