Mayor launches Thrive LDN to challenge mental health stigma

04 July 2017

With more than two million Londoners experiencing mental health problems every year1 the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, today launched Thrive LDN, a new movement to improve mental health and well-being across the capital.

The Mayor has joined forces with over 200 experts, voluntary, public and private organisations, clinicians and academics to spearhead a city-wide campaign that will support Londoners to lead healthier, happier lives.

Through Thrive LDN, six aspirations have been agreed for the capital, which include:

  • Supporting more Londoners to maintain good mental health
  • Developing a programme to stamp out mental health stigma and discrimination
  • Working with schools and youth organisations to get young people involved
  • Working with employers to improve mental health in the workplace
  • Using digital technology to boost Londoners’ access to support and services
  • Working with partner organisations to reduce the number of suicides in London

Londoners report a lower level of life satisfaction, well-being and feeling of self-worth than the national average2.  Almost 10 per cent of children and young people living in the capital aged between five and 16 experiences a mental health issue3 and every week, more than 14 Londoners take their own lives. In 2015, 735 Londoners took their own lives4. In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged between 15 and 24 and the biggest killer of men under 495.

Inspired by a similar movement in New York, Thrive LDN will encourage better working between boroughs, health services, police, transport and voluntary sectors when dealing with people with mental health issues.

Today the Mayor visited TUFF FC (The Unity of Faiths Foundation) to launch Thrive LDN. TUFF FC is a football-based education project, designed to support youth integration and improve the mental well-being of young people. By bringing together children of different faiths and backgrounds, TUFF FC aims to combat issues such as drug addiction, extremism, isolation, gang involvement and knife crime early to prevent young people from developing poor mental health.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “People from all walks of life are affected by poor mental health, and nearly one in two will suffer a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime. I want London to become a more open and tolerant place where people can speak openly about their mental health and the support they need. Thrive LDN aims to improve Londoners’ awareness and understanding of mental health and achieve real improvements in support and care for those who need it.”


The launch of Thrive LDN begins an open conversation with Londoners to encourage everyone to think more, talk more and act more when it comes to mental well-being. Events and a range of other activities are planned over the summer to kick-start the city-wide movement, including new ways of talking about mental through creating Problem Solving Booths, a massive social media and poster campaign and the launch of the Thrive LDN website.

Dr. Anne Rainsberry, Regional Director NHS England (London region) said: “Thrive LDN is a very promising step forward for London. Our aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of Londoners by ensuring important conversations happen about everyone’s mental health. Thrive LDN gives us the opportunity to make our city the happiest and healthiest in the world.“

Councillor Kevin Davis, Lead on Health for London Councils added: “Today’s launch shows the progress we are making in London. We cannot make improvements on our own as a system, we need London’s communities, businesses, voluntary and support services to work with us. We have been overwhelmed by the response, willingness and involvement of partners to launch Thrive LDN and we look forward to working with more Londoners over the coming years.”

Professor Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director of Public Health England (London), said: “Recent events in our city have emphasised how important it is to have resilient, thriving communities to ensure in times of trouble we can support each other to maintain mental wellbeing and to collectively cope with crisis. We can achieve so much more by working together and I look forward to seeing improvements to the lives of every Londoner.”

Dr Marc Rowland, Chair London Clinical Commissioning Council, said: “Real progress has been made across London to improve everyone’s understanding of mental health and wellbeing but there is clearly much more to be done.  This is a chance for London to make even bigger strides by bringing together everyone in our capital to take a citywide approach that prioritises helping all Londoners lead happier, healthier lives.”​

Dr Shamender Talwar, Co founder/ Trustee The Unity of Faiths Foundation (TUFF), said: “The human spirit is far more powerful than any drug in the world, and that is what needs to be nourished with work, play, family and friendship... the simplest of things. Mental illness can be confusing. It leaves those who suffer and those around them disempowered. But misconceptions need to be debunked in order to tackle these problems directly.

“We may not always know the causes of a mental illness. It can be multi-causal, or a result of a traumatic incident. But to leave those who suffer from these issues to fend for themselves is already contributing to their demise. Thrive LDN will be key to bringing awareness and involvement to Londoners on issues surrounding mental health, which require to be addressed. Organisations like TUFF will benefit greatly from the Thrive LDN.”

Notes to editors

[1] Cavendish Square Group (2015) The London Mental Health Fact Book. London: Cavendish Square Group

2 Ibid.

3 Public Health England Fingertips Tool. See:

4 Office for National Statistics, Suicides in England and Wales by local authority. See:

5 Health Select Committee (2016) Suicide Prevention: interim report. London: House of Commons


For more information:

Thrive LDN report – ‘Thrive LDN: Towards happier, healthier lives’:

Thrive London aims to:

  • Enable a citywide movement to encourage Londoners to think, talk and act more about mental health and wellbeing
  • Create a shared sense of purpose of what London wants for mental health
  • Lead a citywide campaign to reduce mental health stigma and discrimination
  • Galvanise political leadership and system leaders around focused action across the six thematic areas
  • Build on the foundations laid by the London Health Commission

Thrive LDN was established in 2016 by the Mayor of London, who chairs the London Health Board, which includes the NHS, Public Health England and London Councils.

The London Health Board (LHB) is a non-statutory group chaired by the Mayor of London comprising elected leaders and key London professional health leads.

The London Health Board is chaired by the Mayor and aims to:

  • To drive improvements in London’s health and care and reduce health inequalities
  • Encourage the ambition to make London the healthiest global city
  • Make the case for investment, power and freedoms to enable the improvement of health and care services and wider issues that affect health in London
  • Consider ways of supporting and accelerating the transformation of health and care services in the capital
  • Champion public participation in health and support more choice and accountability in health and care services

Thrive’s ‘six aspirations for London’ (excerpt from Thrive LDN report):

1.    A city where individuals and communities are in the lead

We will enable a citywide movement for all Londoners that empowers individuals and communities to lead change, address inequalities that lead to poor mental health and create their own ways to improve mental health and wellbeing. We will support more Londoners to access a range of activities that help them to maintain good mental health and wellbeing.

2.    A city free from mental health stigma and discrimination

We will work with partners to develop a programme that ends mental health stigma and discrimination in London. We will ensure support is available to help improve people’s understanding of mental health and push for more mental health first aid training to be provided so London becomes a city that is more mental health aware and equipped to act.

3.    A city that maximises the potential of children and young people

We will build on the exciting developments happening across London to engage children and young people in mental health, get them to lead initiatives, and develop training and resources for youth organisations, schools, and student societies.

4.    A city with a happy, healthy and productive workforce

Many employers are making mental health and wellbeing central to the workplace; we want to support all workplaces to do the same. We will bring partners together to develop and implement a programme to help people who experience poor mental health access support to gain and maintain work. We will work closely with employers to encourage work opportunities in both the public and private sector.

5.    A city with services that are there when and where needed

We will work with partners to create new ways to access services and support. We will build on existing work investigating how best to harness the powers of digital technologies to promote positive mental health and improve information about accessing effective support so that Londoners can better help themselves and support each other

6.    A zero suicide city

We will work with partners across the city to reduce suicides in London. We will build on existing suicide reduction and prevention initiatives by establishing a zero suicide ambition for London.

Problem Solving Booths:
Problem Solving Booths (PSBs) enable wellbeing conversations. Booths consist of two chairs; one for the ‘helped’ who may have a problem or need advice, and one for the ‘helper’ who assists them; people are often asked to then swap roles. PSBs show that everyone can ask for help without being in mental health crisis. We all have problems and, more importantly, we all have the potential to offer help. PSBs were an idea suggested by a young person who was asked what would help the “stresses in his head”, and replied, “a problem solving booth right here.” The social enterprise Owls has led the development of this idea with a range of partners across London. Find out more at

Cost of Mental Health in London:

Welfare benefit payments

£960 million per year

London Education system (due to childhood mental health problems)

c.£200 million per year

Cost to businesses

  • Sickness absence and reduced productivity - £2.82 billion per year
  • Loss to business and industry - £10.4 billion


Cost to London Borough Councils between them addressing mental health issues

c.£550 million

London Criminal Justice system

£220 million

Average cost of postnatal depression


Total cost of poor mental health and wellbeing in London

c.£3,000 per person


The Unity of Faiths Foundation (TUFF) is an innovative “Think and Do Tank” to encourage people from all backgrounds to break down the barriers of misunderstanding and ignorance; and instead learn to accept, respect, and have faith in each other in order to work together. TUFF are experts in tackling issues surrounding Poverty, Gang-related violence, Drug addiction, Mental Health and Extremism.


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