Major new taskforce launched to chart roadmap for services and priorities over next five years

Seize the moment for major improvements in mental health and wellbeing says Stevens

The tide of public opinion is shifting in favour of dramatically improved mental health services,  Simon Stevens says as he launches a new taskforce to forge change.

As signalled in the NHS Five Year Forward View, a new Taskforce is being established to develop a new five year national strategy for mental health, for people of all ages across England.

It will explore the variation in the availability of mental health services across England, look at the outcomes for people who are using services, and identify key priorities for improvement. It will also consider ways of promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, ways of improving the physical health of people with mental health problems, and whether we are spending money and time on the right things. It will report later this year.

Service users and experts by experience, alongside families and carers will be involved throughout in the shaping strategy, alongside other stakeholders.

The Taskforce will be chaired by Paul Farmer the CEO of mental health charity Mind and made up of health and community leaders and experts in the field of mental health including specialist doctors, charities, service users and their families. The Vice Chair will be Jacqui Dyer who has a background in adult mental health commissioning as well as community and family social work.

As a mental health service user and carer for the past two and a half decades, Jacqui is also an elected local councillor and previously Co-Chaired the Lambeth Black Health & Wellbeing Commission.

The new taskforce’s chair Paul Farmer of Mind, said: “Our taskforce will aim to drive change in the delivery of services so they are first-rate for all ages. Stigma around mental health is starting to reduce as professionals and the public begin to realise that we must treat mental health with the same level of respect and importance as physical health. This is a chance to turn the growing awareness of mental health into action and effective delivery across England so that people can get the right help at the right time, investing in preventing problems becoming crises.”

In launching the Taskforce, NHS England CEO Simon Stevens said: “The tide of public opinion is shifting in favour of mental health and wellbeing. People are rightly no longer willing to put up with mental health as the poor relation to the rest of the health service. That’s a hugely powerful impetus for improvement, creating the opportunity for this Taskforce to chart a shared direction for us all over the next five years.”

Members of the taskforce will also include Sarah Brennan from Young Minds, Mark Winstanley of Rethink Mental Illness, Tom Wright of Age UK, Lord Victor Adebowale, Sarah Yiannoullou of NSUN, and senior representatives from the British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network, local government, the Royal College Of GPs.

Working alongside Public Health England, Health Education England, NHS Trust Development Authority, Monitor, the CQC and expert partners, they will build on the progress made so far including the new access and waiting times targets announced last autumn, as well as work done by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce.

Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for mental health, said: “This is a big moment for mental health. We can tackle major challenges which include maximizing personalized, least restrictive home care, improving crisis care, reducing the 20 years premature mortality and improving transition from children’s to adult services.”

New money for NHS mental health services has been committed from 2015/15 for the next 5 years.

  • Local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups have been asked to ensure real terms increases in their investment in mental health services next year.
  • £150m will be invested in improving eating disorders service for children and young people over the next five years.
  • £120m was committed to mental health services and has been split a variety of ways including spend on new waiting times and access standards for early intervention psychosis, IAPT and mental health liaison in acute hospitals.
  • The March 2015 Budget announced an additional £250m per year for the next 5 years:  £15m will go to improve perinatal mental health services, and £235m to improve access for children and young people to mental health services.

The new taskforce will support the use of this money to be sure it starts to have a positive impact on people’s lives quickly.