Creating a new voice for mental health in London

The 10 chief executives of the NHS trusts responsible for mental health services in London had been meeting for 13 years to discuss issues of common interest. They briefed Freshwater to help them formalise and make public their commitment to working together to tackle the complex challenges facing the mental health community in London.

A comprehensive audit of past communications and target stakeholders helped establish which voices were currently occupying the space, and informed the development of a compelling brand identity – the Cavendish Square Group. A new website, proactive programme of profile-raising activity and a high-impact launch event attended by influential figures from the NHS, government and City Hall followed.

Over the course of our three year relationship we helped to raise the Group’s profile with political and public stakeholders, successfully launching a cross-policy initiative in collaboration with the Mayor of London and other MPs, as well as establishing the first-ever London Mental Health Factbook.


793 million

opportunities to see from media during 16/17


Twitter impressions during 16/17


meetings with senior, influential political stakeholders

The chief executives of the 10 London NHS Trusts responsible for mental health services asked Freshwater how they could communicate more effectively, and create a greater impact in the crowded space of mental health policy, and debate.

We worked together to develop a brand proposition and establish the clear narrative and communications infrastructure – including a website, Twitter account and press office function – necessary to enable them to speak as one voice.

On appointment, Freshwater conducted a comprehensive audit of past communications and target stakeholders to establish which voices were currently occupying the space. This insight showed that a strong brand identity and compelling narrative were essential to achieving cut through in a crowded environment.

We held a creative workshop with the chief executives to understand their aims and prepare a set of SMART objectives. We developed a new brand proposition – the Cavendish Square Group, named after the home of their meetings – and identified three key ambitions which went on to fuel a proactive public relations and engagement strategy to raise awareness of the Group, and its adopted issues.

The Cavendish Square Group was officially launched with an event managed by Freshwater’s specialist events team. The Rt. Hon. Norman Lamb MP, then minister responsible for mental health, delivered the inaugural lecture at the event, which was attended by influential stakeholders from across the public and not for profit sectors.

We built a dedicated website, established a Twitter feeds and invested in content marketing techniques to keep both channels populated with high quality, engaging content including videos, infographics, case studies, blogs and news articles.

We also established press office function and trained a selection of spokespeople to ensure the Group had access to opinion leaders who could confidently fulfil speaking, and media, opportunities. Media relations focused on securing in-depth commentary and opinion pieces in national publications (consumer and trade), as well as regular slots on London-based broadcast media, as a means to reach and influence the target audience.

Tactics included ongoing newsgathering and horizon-scanning to identify case studies, blog and comment opportunities to fuel the Group’s public relations activity with news and views from across the capital. We established robust mechanisms for engaging relevant clinicians and service leads to ensure they were committed to, and motivated by, the idea of generating content to enhance and promote issues pertaining to mental health. As a result, we were able to deploy a mix of news releases, thought leadership and media briefings around topical issues in order to generate media interest, and coverage opportunities.

Freshwater established links for the Group with NHS England London’s communication teams which led to joint work to support public health and awareness raising campaigns in the capital, including a #MentalHealthMonth.

In addition, the Group tasked Freshwater’s public affairs specialists with delivering a political engagement programme to build mutual understanding and relationships in City Hall and Westminster. This included meeting, and briefing, Ministers, Shadow Minister and relevant MPs and a dedicated engagement programme with City Hall.

The Group’s perspectives are regularly featured by the Guardian, Times, LBC and on the BBC as well as online channels and NHS networks. In one year alone, media coverage delivered in excess of 793 million opportunities to see.

In its inaugural year, #MentalHealthMonth activity reached more than 644,000 people through digital channels alone. We produced, published and promoted nine blog contributions from the Group to support NHS England London’s campaign, undertook daily social media activity using the agreed hashtag and facilitated five site visits to key services.

The dedicated engagement programme with City Hall resulted in the Cavendish Square Group meeting with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and being invited to join the Thrive LDN project. This is a cross-policy initiative designed to inform how services are best commissioned and delivered within the capital in order to drive change. This has resulted in a piece of joint-work with the London Health Board to draft a ‘mental health roadmap’ for London, a piece of cross-policy designed to inform how services are best commissioned and delivered. Freshwater also secured meetings with government Ministers, the Shadow Minister responsible for mental health and other influential figures, building vital relationships for the Group with political stakeholders.


Cavendish Square Group

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