Case Study

Family Mental Wealth

Dr Elizabeth McNaught and her parents Nick and Carol Pollard, of Family Mental Wealth, posing for a picture in front of a lake and large mountain.

Case Study - Family Mental Wealth

In conversation with Carol Pollard

Family Mental Wealth is co-founded by Dr Elizabeth McNaught (Lizzie), her parents, and Nick and I. Lizzie is a GP with experience of mental ill health in her teenage years, including emergency and inpatient hospital care.

Nick and I are lifelong serial entrepreneurs who have worked together for over 45 years. Nick is a former research psychologist and I am a former teacher.

The mission of Family Mental Wealth is to play a significant role in supporting mental health in children and young people. We do this through Headway®, a suite of digital tools that facilitate family-based self-help, appropriately integrated with educational and clinical support.

Our digital tools are designed to prevent and treat mental ill-health in children and young people aged 9-18 throughout the primary and secondary care pathway – from watchful waiting in primary care, right through waiting list support, treatment, and step-down care in secondary services.

This vision comes partly from our past personal experience of having supported Lizzie through her own recovery journey, and partly from Lizzie’s current work as a GP, where she sees many families in need of help for the mental health of their children.


Truthfully, we didn’t initially want to start this business. Lizzie is a successful doctor with a busy medical career and Nick and I, having started our first two businesses whilst still at university and now being past retirement age, felt we had already ‘done our bit’.

However, there is an overwhelming need to help families to build the mental health of their children, and the co-founders know the power of family-based self-help from their own experience.

When a child develops mental ill-health, their family can feel a devastating sense of impotence. What can they do? But there is a lot that families can do, if they are provided with appropriate, evidence-based knowledge, skills, and tools.

That is what Family Mental Wealth is set up to provide. The need faced by families exists across the whole country – indeed, across the world - so support must be fully scalable, which is possible by providing families with digital tools.

The journey

The journey has been one of slow and steady growth. It has not been easy or straightforward. There are always many challenges, but as Nick and Carol know from their experience of founding and building businesses in the past, these challenges can be overcome.

No matter how difficult things may seem in the short-term, it is vital to build for the long-term, even if, like Nick and Carol at their age, the co-founders know that they will not themselves be around for that long-term.

Although a new company is built by individuals, it is essential that it is built to thrive and grow far beyond the original founders.

The growth curve

From the beginning, the co-founders were very clear about the vision and values of the company. This is to be a social enterprise. Although formulated as a commercial company, the primary goal is to help families build the mental health of their children.

To be sustainable, this support must be carried out in a commercially viable manner and, indeed, the financial modelling for global licensing of the company’s digital tools does predict very substantial financial returns. But the purpose of financial success is to enable the social goal, and not just for its own sake.

To serve all families, the digital tools should be free at the point of delivery, which means commissioning by the NHS in this country and similar health services in other countries. That means that these digital tools must be substantial, evidence-based, and clinically sound.

Therefore, for the first five years, the company focused on research, development, and testing. Funded by a series of government grants, the company worked in collaboration with a wide range of clinical and academic centres of excellence (including the South London and Maudsley NHS, and the School of Psychology at the universities of Sussex and Southampton).

Right now, Family Mental Wealth is transitioning from being solely a research and development company into also being a delivery and deployment company, so that the tools it has created can be available to families across the world.


Initially, the greatest challenge was to create evidence-based, clinically-sound tools. Now, having achieved that, the greatest challenge is to navigate the complex process of licensing the tools to the NHS in this country and similar health services in other countries.

Theoretically, that should be a simple sales process, because the tools meet a substantial need and are much more economical than the cost of clinical interventions. However, practically, this involves a great deal of communication, to demonstrate to commissioners the value of the company’s innovative solutions; and a great deal of compliance with all of the regulatory requirements.

Family Mental Wealth is grateful for further government grants that are facilitating this process, and collaboration with umbrella NHS bodies such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).


Knowing that the company will make a real difference to the lives of families across the world, as they build the mental health of their children. Also, it will save costs for the NHS and similar health services in other countries, whilst generating substantial financial returns for Family Mental Wealth, which will enable further growth into the future.

The future

The company is currently in the middle of transitioning from being solely a research and development company into also being a delivery and deployment company. At some time in this process, the co-founders envisage that they will hand over the leadership of Family Mental Wealth to others who will drive the company forward in the decades ahead, whilst the co-founders continue in a visionary and ambassadorial role.

This might be through Family Mental Wealth continuing as a separate company with its own directors and management team, or through becoming a division of a larger company through a merger or acquisition.


From their experience over many years, Nick and Carol know that the most important foundation of any company is the core values upon which it is built. For them, these are mission, quality, and integrity.

First, it is important to be very clear about the mission of the company – what it does (so that it can focus on what it uniquely brings to the marketplace), but also what it doesn’t do (so that it does not become distracted or diluted).

Second, a commitment to quality is essential for sustained growth. Cutting corners on quality might yield short-term returns, but that will not enable long-term growth.

Third, integrity is essential for long-term commitments from customers and sustainable relationships within the team.

Using 1st Formations

The co-founders researched various options for company formation and decided upon 1st Formations because they clearly share the same core values of mission, quality, and integrity.

The company formation process

Very straightforward. You say what you will do, and then do what you say.

1st Formations today

Truthfully, until this point, we had not considered how we might use 1st Formations beyond the initial formation and corporate compliance processes. However, we will now explore other ways in which your services might engage with our company growth and development.


It was great to find a company like 1st Formations, where it was just so easy.

Paul Tavener, Marvellous Escapes View customer story