£120million investment in tackling mental health

The NHS in England is to invest a further £120million over the next two years on improving mental health services.

The investment and the new standards for mental health services have been announced today by NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as part of a five-year ambition that will see new waiting times standards and early intervention services introduced, helping to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health services.

Simon Stevens, NHS England’s Chief Executive, said: “This is an important moment when we will bring parity of esteem for mental health services a step closer. Putting access and waiting standards in place across all mental health services, and delivering better integration of physical and mental health care by 2020, will bring us much closer towards that aim.”

Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, said: “This programme will start the journey to transform mental health care in England. Today people who present in crisis often wait too long for an assessment and to access treatment. This new approach will help improve crisis care and help reduce the distress that untreated mental illness brings. With 75 per cent of long term mental health problems diagnosed before 18, investing in early effective treatments will pay immediate and long term dividends.”

The new standards introduced from 2015/16 will be:

  • 75 per cent of people referred for talking therapies for treatment of common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, will start their treatment within six weeks and 95 per cent will start within 18 weeks.
  • At least 50 per cent of people going through their first episode of psychosis will get NICE-approved help within two weeks of being referred.

Currently, most people who are referred for treatment for a physical health problem can expect to start their care within six weeks, with an absolute maximum wait of 18 weeks. The new plans mean mental health patients referred for talking therapies will be able to expect the same standards.

Similarly, people referred for urgent cancer treatment can expect to be seen within two weeks. The ambition is that people needing urgent care for first episode psychosis will be treated with the same urgency, no matter where they live.

Mental illness costs the country as much as £100 billion each year through lost working days, benefits and treating preventable illness but these plans are expected to make huge savings:

  • improved access to talking therapies will help tackle the 70 million working days lost annually due to mental health problems;
  • early treatment for people with psychosis could save the NHS £44million a year in reduced hospital admissions through people reaching crisis point;
  • improved psychiatric liaison services in A&E departments could save each hospital an average of £5million a year by cutting down on admissions and length of stay.

The national standards will also help tackle the regional variation in very long waiting times for talking therapies as well as making sure that there is proper investment in making these services available to everyone who needs them within an acceptable time.

As well as the access standards, the plan also includes:

  • Investment in liaison psychiatry services in acute hospitals so that more people than ever before who go to A&E in a mental health crisis – for example if they have self-harmed – will get the right help at the right time.
  • An immediate £7million investment by NHS England to fund 50 new inpatient beds for children and young people and better case management so that children with specialist needs get the right care in the right place.
  • Continued work of the Taskforce that was convened in August to bring together experts on children and young people’s mental health and make recommendations to improve services.
  • Further investment in crisis services to make sure every local area signs up to the principles of the Crisis Care Concordat and makes sure anyone in a mental health crisis gets urgent, high quality care.
  • Better physical health care for mental health patients including health checks and support with smoking cessation
  • Support from NHS England for Clinical Commissioning Groups to make sure there is proper investment in local mental health services.
  • Work to improve data collections on mental health and services to make sure people are getting the right care in the right place and at the right time.

Going forward, the plans will also look to:

  • Develop access standards and waiting times where appropriate for every area of mental health.
  • Make sure every person with a serious mental health problem will have a named clinician to coordinate their care.
  • Extend Personal Health Budgets to people who use mental health services so that patients have more say in their care.


  1. Neil Aspinall says:

    I am currently in the care of my GP for a mental health condition and to say the service is not fully joined up is an understatement.
    Being passed around is no use and the optimism is often dashed by yet another assessment as a triage is doing more harm than good to sufferers.
    People are suffering far too long before seeing a mental health professional and the care is isolating with hospitalisation even short term appears to be for those with complex psychiatric needs when the vast majority of us could do with a half way house system where we re receive more than a half hour consultation every 4 weeks.

  2. dorinda clarke says:

    You always forget the families who are more and more left with most of the responsability of care for their loved ones with mental health problems. With none of the say. You should be ashamed of yourselves . We are human to and we also have rights yet as often as not you ignore them and us HOw Dare You

  3. Kanta Patel says:

    I am concern that no mention has been made regarding investment in maternity services to support women who are pregnant and just delivered with mental health needs. Additional support for these women is essential to ensure better outcome for both mothers and babies. Currently there is a postcode lottery as to what support is available. This should not be the case. Policy makers needs to ensure equall access to mental health support is available to all in need. This includes maternity clients.

  4. Ruth Grant says:

    I will believe it when I see it, I am both a member of staff who works for Mental Health services and have had to use services myself in the past. I would hope that this would really happen but as I said i believe it when I see it

  5. John Chiocchi says:

    While I welcome investment into mental health services god knows it has been underfunded compared to other area’s of the NHS in real terms, which only parity of esteem between all arers of the NHS, after reading the report a key element is still not being addressed in Mental Health and that is support for carers and family members, with physical conditions it is sometimes easier to help and manage, but with mental health problems it is harder to provide help and support due in some instances to lack of knowledge but a lot of the time there is an expectation that carers or families will provide this support, which can also then lead to mental health issues for the carer of family, so key to this is to provide psycho-education programmes for families and give them the skills to manage some of the difficulties that people with mental illhealth have.

  6. Mary Candler says:

    About time! There is so much ignorance re basic steps to good mental health that we can all take to help ourselves so I hope that education is part of this also.

  7. Pat Abram says:

    This is good news but not f you are in the prison system in Lancashire as they are restructuring and planning on removing Counsellors for more CBT orientated therapies for me there is a place for both.

  8. Jo says:

    As a carer for a mentally ill person, I’ve found the changes need to happen at GP level. They are in the ideal position to recognise problems at the beginning and step in before they escalate and end up costing the NHS more money than necessary.

    I have experienced first hand GP’s wishing to wash their hands of my ‘difficult’ patient, advising me to ‘call an ambulance’ as they were not prepared to help. The result of this is that within 24 hours, specialist mental health services had to step in as my patient went downhill so rapidly. Six months later Im incredibly grateful to those specialists, who were absolutely awesome, but Ive no doubt this episode has ended up costing the NHS vastly more than it needed to.

    GPs need to fully recognise, empathise and deal effectively with mental health issues, even if this ultimately means effective and sympathatic handover to outside services. Its not just a case of ‘pulling yourself together’ – this attitude is dated and dangerous, but in my own experience is all too common.

  9. Rekha Elaswarapu says:

    This is an excellent news. I only hope that the money invested will indeed provide better outcomes particularly around access to basic services such as talking therapy which can prevent escalation to crisis stage. Key groups with high incidence of depression are teenagers and older people amongst others of course.