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Investment pledged to transform mental health services

The Department of Health has announced an extra £1 billion will be invested in mental health care by 2021 and a million more people will get mental health support.

The announcement follows the publication of a report by the Mental Health Taskforce, chaired by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind. The taskforce has reviewed mental health care and has set out its vision for preventative, holistic mental health care and making sure that care is always available for people experiencing a crisis. One in four people will experience a mental health problem and the cost of mental ill health to the economy, the NHS and society as a whole is £105 billion a year.

The recommendations to be delivered by 2021 include:

* An end to the practice of sending people out of their local area for acute inpatient care

* Providing mental health care to 70,000 more children and young people

* Supporting 30,000 more new and expectant mothers through maternal mental health services

* New funding to ensure all acute hospitals have mental health services in emergency departments for people of all ages

* Increasing access to talking therapies to reach 25% of those who need this support

* A commitment to reducing suicides by 10%

Paul Farmer says: “This is a landmark moment for mental health care in this country, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform services and support for people with mental health problems. We are saying to the NHS, to government, to industry, to local leaders and to the public that mental health must be a priority for everyone in England. We need to prevent problems in the first place, and to respond to people’s mental health problems at the earliest possible opportunity. As part of this, the NHS can and should be a world leader in care which treats people’s minds and bodies equally well.

“This report is a feasible and affordable blueprint for how to significantly improve care for people with mental health problems. We have consulted with the experts - people with experience of mental health problems, professionals providing care and the public. It’s time to make positive change.”

Responding to the report, Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt says: “We have made monumental strides in the way we think about and treat mental illness in this country in the last few decades - from a society that locks people away in asylums to one giving mental health equal priority in law.

“But we must accelerate progress even further. Our shared vision of a seven day mental health service means people will get the care they need, when they need it, and will help us do much more to prevent mental illness in the first place. We will work across Government and with the NHS to make the recommendations in this landmark report a reality, so that we truly deliver equality between mental and physical health.”

The Taskforce report states that evidence indicates that enabling good mental health, and effectively responding to mental health problems when they arise, is dependent on a wide range of socio-economic factors. In recognition of this, the Taskforce makes a series of recommendations for wider government. These include:

* Significant increase in public transparency through changes in how spend on NHS mental health care is tracked and reported so it is clear what is being spent in communities on which mental health conditions.

* A government champion for equalities and health inequalities.

* The creation of prevention plans in every community across England to help integrate public health, social care and housing and improve mental health outcomes, with mental health champions in each community.

* An independent system for scrutinising the quality of investigations into all deaths within in-patient mental health settings.

The Taskforce garnered views from 20,000 members of the public, people with experience of mental health problems and healthcare professionals to understand what they believed was necessary to change how mental health care is delivered across the NHS.

They took all the feedback into consideration when drafting the report, working alongside experts to set recommendations. NHS England will lead work to ensure changes are made, working in partnership with the six health arms-length bodies, people who use services, Taskforce organisations and health and care leaders across England.

Alistair Burt, minister for mental health, concludes: “Today’s report gives a fantastic boost to changes in mental health services, with more care available close to people’s homes. I particularly welcome the fact that young people and new and expectant mums will get the mental health care they need. For our part, we are investing more than ever before in mental health and will make sure the NHS delivers on this plan.”