The Department for Health and Social Care has made a call for evidence to inform a 10-year mental health plan.
The government wants the public, those with lived experience of mental health problems, and health and care professionals to share views on how support and services should adapt for the future.
The new 10-year mental health plan aims to level up mental health across the country and put mental and physical health on an equal footing. It will build on current progress, assessing how local services can work together to prevent mental ill health.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on people across the country. While we continue to expand and transform our mental health services under the NHS Long Term Plan to meet rising demand, we know we need to go further.
“Too many people, particularly our children and young people, do not have the tools and support they need to look after their wellbeing or prevent mental health problems from escalating.
“We all have a role to play in resetting the way we approach mental health and our new 10-year plan will set an ambitious agenda for where we want the mental health of the nation to be a decade from now,” he added.
Around one in five adults in Britain experienced some form of depression in the first three months of 2021, over double pre-pandemic figures.
The groups most impacted, including children and young people and those with severe mental illness, have been supported through a £500 million mental health recovery action plan.
The call for evidence aims to build on this progress, adding to the understanding of the causes of mental ill-health, listening to people who have interacted with services and those who know and support them, to draw on ‘what works’. This will support the development of a plan which aims to prevent and mitigate the impacts of risk factors on mental health and suicide, particularly for groups who experience disparities.
The 10-year plan builds on the NHS Long Term plan and forms part of the government’s wider commitments to ‘build back fairer’, working towards putting mental health on a level footing with physical health, and forms a key part of the commitments to address health disparities across the country and to improve the mental wellbeing of the nation by 2030.
The sooner someone receives support when they are struggling with their mental health, the more likely it is they will recover. The NHS plays an important role in identifying, diagnosing, treating, and supporting people with mental health conditions, and there are also a range of public, private and community services ideally placed to identify people who may be struggling that can offer support or signpost to NHS services.
Minister for Mental Health Gillian Keegan said: “Across the country, no matter your background, you should have the opportunity to grow up in, and stay in, good mental health.
“I want anyone who needs mental health services to be able to access them.
“I encourage everyone, especially those who live with a mental health condition, carers and our brilliant workforce, to share their views on how we improve mental health services and reduce disparities across the country,” she added.
The call for evidence is seeking views on a number of key questions:
How can we all promote positive mental wellbeing?
How can we all prevent the onset of mental ill-health?
How can we all intervene earlier when people need support with their mental health?
How can we improve the quality and effectiveness of treatment for mental health conditions?
How can we all support people living with mental health conditions to live well?
How can we all improve support for people in crisis?
Responses from the call for evidence will also inform the development of a separate national suicide prevention plan which will refresh the 2012 plan. Future detail on this plan will be set out in due course.
Dr Alex George, Youth Mental Health Ambassador, said: “We have made great progress in reducing the stigma associated with mental ill-health, but there is still work to do.
“Too many people still don’t know where to turn to for support or can’t access help early enough.
“Let’s continue to tackle the stigma that surrounds mental health – let’s respond to this call for evidence and all start a national conversation so that in 10 years from now, the mental health of the nation will be better supported. I am keen to see the outcomes of this consultation followed by adequate funding.”
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “Mind has long been calling for a more joined-up approach from government to mental health, one which follows the evidence of what works in areas like benefits, education and housing to build a better future for us all, and reduces the glaring racial and social inequalities that persist in mental health.
“A truly cross-government plan will play a key role in making sure support for our mental health starts to be rebuilt post-pandemic to the same level as for our physical health,” he added.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We welcome the government’s recognition that our mental health doesn’t exist in a silo. It’s influenced by the quality of our relationships, education and housing, the fairness of our justice system, the security of our income and the health of our communities. A well-resourced whole-government plan for mental health is the pioneering step we need for building the mentally healthy society we all want: where mental health is an asset to be nurtured, rather than a problem to be treated.”
The call for evidence opens today (Tuesday 12 April 2022) and will close on 5 July.
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