Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, lays down a marker for World Mental Health Day.
It is exciting to be in this role at a time when we have the national strategy of “No health without mental health”, and an NHS Mandate that makes an historic commitment to deliver “parity” of esteem.
So what is it that we, in NHS England with our partners across government and across the mental health leadership community, want to change?
We want to play our part in creating a society where mental well-being and building strong, psychologically resilient people and communities is seen as essential, exciting and transformational.
We want good psychological health to be as achievable as good physical health.
We want to support employers to create healthy workplaces, and parents and schools to support our young people learn how to achieve great psychological health, as well as academic success.
We want local community leaders and commissioners to act on the knowledge that over half of all mental ill health starts before the age of fourteen, so it’s important to intervene early.
We want to stop the unnecessary and shaming premature mortality of those with mental illness.
We want to stop the scandal of lack of access to the very effective, and cost effective, treatments we now have in mental health.
So what actions are we taking and what do we plan?
NHS England has got off to a flying start! We have set up an organisation where the culture is about collaboration, and the focus is on achieving parity and outcomes.
We have acted at pace on three fundamental building blocks: We have connected with leaders across all sectors. We are building a powerful communication and information system to arm these leaders with the facts they need to communicate to achieve ‘parity’. We have been thrilled to identify so much front line innovation and excellence in every part of the country and in every type of services.
In our first six months we have started many programmes. Some of the major ones include:
- People who suffer mental ill health scandalously die up to two decades younger than their counterparts, from the five major killer diseases. NHS England is launching a formidable programme to reduce premature mortality, and people with mental ill health will be included at the heart of these plans.
- People, who have conditions such as stroke, heart and lung disease, cancer, diabetes, liver, commonly suffer mental ill health as a consequence. Unless they are treated, they also die earlier. NHS England’s integrated care pathway programme is tackling this head on. Across the country care has started to transform! Access to highly effective psychological therapies is being provided in primary care and acute care settings, moving from a ‘cared for’ approach to a ‘How to live well with’ empowering, educational, care model.
- Care in crisis for vulnerable people, including those in mental health need, is at the heart of an ethical society. NHS England has launched its acute and unplanned care review, engaging literally thousands of stakeholders in designing a system that is responsive to local populations. For the first time in my lifetime, mental health crisis is included and the mental health clinical commissioners and partners mental health providers are exploring and evaluating innovation in single access points, tele health and tele triage, twenty four hour community and mental health liaison care models, aiming to provide personalised, home based care where possible.
Across the country our strategic clinical networks have launched, with upwards of 2,500 leaders from many sectors engaging. They are working with Clinical Commissioners on plans that will improve lives and build sustainable leaders for mental health.
Building on the success of the mental health CCG leadership course delivered to 32 leaders in London last year, NHS England has announced the roll out of this leadership programme for all 211 CCGs across the country. Experts by experience, expert clinicians and commissioners will shape the launch for spring 2014.
Primary care mental health is finding a strong voice and, innovative services, collaborative models, and real integration of physical and mental health is gathering an unstoppable pace!
I want to thank all the wonderful experts by experience, carers, commissioning and provider leaders and partners that are working with us in the journey towards parity that England has now started.
We can make it happen and I very much look forward to working with you all.