Helen Lester Appeal for Mental Health Research

Mental health research receives less than 6.5% of the total health research spending yet 1 in 4 adults in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. This means the 16.7m people in the UK who suffer from a mental health problem are being denied research that could improve their lives.

The Royal College of General Practitioners has a long standing commitment to mental health research and we are not afraid to meet the biggest challenges to the NHS to help find solutions that will enhance the quality of care our patients receive. 

People with serious mental health problems are more likely to suffer from physical health problems, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Tragically, this means they are likely to die 15 to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population. 

Together, we can change the lives of those with mental health problems.


Helen Lester

Helen Lester worked tirelessly to provide support to patients with mental health problems and was an inspiration to many.

This is a black and white image of Dr. Helen Lester taken in 2012


A well known figure at the Royal College of General Practitioners, Helen Lester was chair of our Clinical Innovation and Research Centre, a member of Council and the College’s lead on mental health commissioning.

Her determination to make a difference to the shorter life expectancy predicted for those with mental health problems resulted in the successful introduction of new health indicators into the Quality and Outcomes Framework. 

The Helen Lester Mental Health Research Fund will support researchers as passionate as Helen was about addressing the needs of vulnerable patients.


Help mental health research in primary care

We aim to raise £200,000 to support researchers focusing on mental health in primary care. The Lester Fund will support Research Fellowships and grants managed by our Scientific Foundation Board and the Research Fellowships will be affiliated with a university academic department of primary care.

The Board will select research which strives to improve the lives of those living with mental health problems across the UK.

GPs play a key role in the treatment of people with mental health problems and through this fund we aim to improve the care given to patients.

Your donation will make this possible.

Could you become part of the Appeal Benefactors Circle?

To recognise those who give over £1,000 towards this Fund, we are creating an Appeal Benefactors Circle, a special recognition package including an event with the College’s Officers to meet those supported by the Fund and hear about their work, both once they are selected and following the completion of their research.

Circle members will also have the opportunity to attend other exclusive College events over the next few years.

If you want to donate by cheque, please download the RCGP Helen Lester Appeal leaflet, which includes a donation form [PDF]

For more information about the Helen Lester Appeal contact the Fundraising Team on 020 3188 7502 or email


Watch Being bothered about Billy at the RCGP James Mackenzie Lecture 2012 with Professor Helen Lester for more information about mental health and Helen Lester’s work

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