Mental health problems bring substantial individual, community and societal costs and the need for innovation to promote good mental health and to prevent and treat mental health problems has never been greater. However, we know that research findings can take up to 20 years to implement. One way to push the pace is to focus researchers and funders on shared, specific goals and targets. We describe a consultation process organised by the Department of Health and Social Care and convened by the Chief Medical Officer to consider high level goals for future research efforts and to begin to identify UK-specific targets to measure research impact. The process took account of new scientific methods and evidence, the UK context with a universal health care system (the NHS) and the embedded research support from the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network, as well as the views of individual service users and service user organisations. The result of the consultation is a set of four overarching goals with the potential to be measured at intervals of three, five or ten years.