People with mental health difficulties, ranging from severe mental illnesses such as bipolar and schizophrenia, to those with more common mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, will benefit from expanded mental health services backed by £500 million as part of the government’s Mental Health Recovery Action Plan.
The plan, published today, aims to respond to the impact of the 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.
Under the plan NHS talking therapies (IAPT services) which offer confidential treatment of conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD will expand, supporting 1.6 million people to access services in 2021/22, backed by an additional £38 million.
Additional therapists will also be trained to support those with more complex mental health needs as a result of the pandemic.
People living with severe mental illness will also benefit from enhanced mental 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 funding will accelerate expansion and transformation of community mental health services, enabling people with severe mental illnesses to access psychological therapies, improved physical health care, employment support, personalised and trauma-informed care, medicines management and support for self-harm.
This is part of the wider government agenda to build back better from the pandemic and ensure everyone is able to access the support they need.
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.
One-off initiatives will receive funding to tackle the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and learning disability and autism services and to support groups who have disproportionately been affected by the pandemic.
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.
Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Nadine Dorries said
I am acutely aware of the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health and wellbeing of many. The public has shown great resilience during these challenging times, but some groups including young people and those with severe mental illness have been impacted more than others.
This funding will support these groups, both in initiatives specifically designed in the wake of the pandemic, and by enabling us to bring forward our NHS Long Term Plan commitments.
For anyone who is feeling they need support, I urge you to reach out. Our mental health services are here for you.
One-off, new initiatives to support mental health recovery from the pandemic include:
The Recovery Action Plan highlights further initiatives to place mental health at the centre of government policy, including through the development and testing of a ‘Mental Health Impact Assessment’ for all new policies, and continuation of the Ministerial group examining the impacts of the pandemic on mental health and wellbeing. This group has overseen a range of cross-government initiatives, such as the Wellbeing for Education Return scheme launched last September.
In addition, all government departments are committing to promote Public Health England’s Psychological First Aid training to their workers and volunteers to develop their skills and confidence in providing support to those affected by COVID-19. These free online training modules help people develop their skills and confidence in providing key psychological support on issues such as job worries, bereavement or isolation.
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.
Mental health services have remained open during the pandemic, often adapting to provide support via digital services. The Recovery Action Plan commits to capitalise on this transformation of services, including a £30 million commitment from NHSX to support mental health Trusts to embed digital and remote working into service delivery.
To support NHS mental health services in the longer term, £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. This is on top of support put in place by NHS England, including a dedicated confidential staff support line operated by the Samaritans, and a £15 million investment to strengthen mental health support for NHS staff during the second wave.
The Recovery Action Plan is published alongside 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.
£79 million of this £500 million for Children and Young People’s mental health services was announced earlier this month to expand community mental health services and the provision of mental health support teams in schools.
£87 million to support good-quality discharge from mental health facilities will also be funded from the £500 million and was announced as part of the £7 billion package for the health and care sector.
Those with severe mental illness are prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine under JCVI cohort 6.
Full allocation of the £500m for Mental Health and NHS workforce announced at the Spending Review: