About mental health

One-in-four adults and one-in-ten children experience mental illness during their lifetime, and many more of us know and care for people who do.

Improved mental health and wellbeing is associated with a range of better outcomes for people of all ages and backgrounds.

These include:

  • improved physical health and life expectancy
  • better educational achievement
  • increased skills
  • reduced health risk behaviours such as smoking and alcohol misuse
  • reduced risk of mental health problems and suicide
  • improved employment rates and productivity
  • reduced anti-social behaviour and criminality
  • and higher levels of social interaction and participation.

Since 2013, NHS England has been working to improve the outcomes and experiences of people of all ages with mental health problems, to ensure that mental health is treated on par with physical health. To achieve this, we are working closely with service users, carers, other national NHS bodies and key partners such as social care and the voluntary sector.

Our role in mental health

Mental health is a priority as outlined in our Business Plan for 2016/17, and this is set out in the NHS England mandate. This reflects the agenda described in the Five Year Forward View, which gave a clear commitment to driving a more equal response across mental and physical health.

Key commitments in 2016/17 are:

  • To develop and implement a new national implementation programme for mental health to 2020/21, building on the recommendations of the independent Mental Health Taskforce and the Dementia Implementation Plan.
  • From April 2016, at least 50 percent of people experiencing a first episode of psychosis should commence treatment with a NICE-approved care package within two weeks of referral, with the aim of increasing to 60 percent over the next five years.
  • By April 2016, we will work with mental health providers to ensure that 75 per cent of people referred to psychological therapies begin treatment within six weeks, and 95 per cent within 18 weeks, securing a minimum of 50 per cent recovery rate from treatment, with the aim of increasing access to 25 per cent over the next five years.
  • From April 2016, maintain a minimum of two thirds diagnosis rates for people with dementia, whilst agreeing an affordable implementation plan to deliver more consistent access to effective treatment and support.
  • By March 2017, we will support CCGs to begin implementing plans to improve crisis care for all ages, including investing in places of safety.
  • By March 2017, we will work with partners to increase provision of high quality mental health care for children and young people as part of the national transformation programme to ensure an extra 70,000 have access by 2020, including prevention and early intervention.
  • By March 2017, we will set out how areas will ensure that children and young people with an eating disorder commence treatment with NICE-approved care within clear waiting times for both urgent and routine cases.

NHS England has three National Clinical Directors supporting our work to improve mental health: