Mental health services are to be boosted by government funding of £500 million as part of the government’s Mental Health Recovery Action Plan.
The plan is designed to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the public, specifically targeting groups which have been most impacted including those with severe mental illness, young people, and frontline staff.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our Recovery Action Plan, backed by £500 million of funding will accelerate the expansion of mental health services and provide people with the support they need.
“As part of our response to this global pandemic we not only want to tackle the public health threat of coronavirus but ensure our clinicians have the resources to deal with the impact on people’s mental health.”
NHS talking therapies which offer confidential treatment of conditions such as anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will expand, supporting 1.6 million people to access services in 2021/22, backed by an additional £38 million.
Additional therapists will be trained to support people with more complex mental health needs as a result of the pandemic.
Community mental health services will be boosted to ensure that people living with severe mental illness will benefit from enhanced mental health services in the community, backed by £58 million for better, joined up support between primary and secondary care, including specialist mental health staff embedded in primary care. The expansion and transformation of community mental health services will be accelerated with the funding, ensuring people with severe mental illnesses can access psychological therapies, improved physical health care, employment support, personalised and trauma-informed care, medicines management and support for self-harm.
Funding will also be used to help level up mental health and wellbeing across the country in the most deprived local authority areas in England, supporting prevention activities like debt advice, carers support, outreach to people facing loneliness and isolation, youth projects and community groups.
One-off, new initiatives to support mental health recovery from the pandemic include:
- £13 million to ensure young adults aged 18 to 25, including university students, are supported with tailored mental health services, helping bridge the gap between children’s and adult services.
- £2.5 million to pilot new approaches to support children who have experienced complex trauma.
- £2.5 million to boost a pilot supporting offenders with significant mental health needs, to divert them away from custodial sentences, and help them to access the support they need through Mental Health Treatment Requirements
- £31 million to support learning disability and autism services, to address the diagnostic backlog as a result of the pandemic, and support intervention to prevent children and young people with learning disability, autism or both escalating into crisis
- £5 million to support suicide prevention through voluntary and community sector organisations.
In addition, £111 million will be invested to train the workforce of the future, which will ensure staff are in place to support two million more people access NHS mental health care and treatment by 2023/24.
Support for frontline workers also remains a key priority, and an additional £10 million will be invested to support the mental health of the workforce in the wake of the pandemic.
The Recovery Action Plan is published at the same time as the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Progress Report and associated cross-government workplan, which sets out data and trends on suicide and self-harm, progress against existing commitments, and crucially, the steps government has and will be taking to reduce suicide and self-harm as far as possible.
NHS England’s National Mental Health Director, Claire Murdoch said: “The pandemic has turned everyone’s lives upside down and has been really tough on mental health which is why we have ensured NHS services have remained open while also treating tens of thousands of Covid patients.
“This funding announced as part of the Spending Review last November will now support the NHS’s work to boost capacity of the services we offer, including our world-leading talking therapies, community-based care for people with severe mental illness, and our round the clock crisis lines which were established at the beginning of the pandemic,” she concluded.
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