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Mental health taskforce unveils five year strategy

22 February 2016

The independent Mental Health Taskforce has brought together health and care leaders, people using services and experts in the field to create a Five Year Forward View for Mental Health for the NHS in England.

This national strategy, which covers care and support for all ages, was published in February 2016 and signifies the first time there has been a strategic approach to improving mental health outcomes across the health and care system, in partnership with the health arm’s length bodies.

The taskforce was chaired by Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind. The vice chair was Jacqui Dyer who is an expert-by-experience and a carer. It included members from partner arm’s length bodies who hold critical responsibilities related to the planning and delivery of care, as well as representatives from the voluntary sector and professional bodies. Members of the taskforce were responsible for ensuring that there was cross-system commitment and alignment when developing actions within the national strategy and that continued partnership, working effectively and meaningfully, enables the strategy to be delivered.

In order to develop the strategy, the taskforce explored the variation in access to and quality of care and support across England; looked at outcomes for people who are and aren’t able to access these and also considered ways to tackle the prevention of mental health problems. The views of people with mental health problems and their families and carers were vital to this, as were the views of NHS staff.

During the development of the strategy, the taskforce sought the expert input of people with personal experience of mental health problems, families, carers and professionals as well as reviewing clinical and economic evidence. People gave their assessments of what works well, what doesn’t and suggested how to tackle some of the challenges – including the stigma that too frequently prevents people going to get the help they need. Over 20,000 people responded to the taskforce – an unprecedented level of feedback which clearly demonstrates that people are passionate about improving mental health care and support across the NHS. This feedback has directly shaped the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

In September 2015, the taskforce published a report into the findings of their engagement work. Improvements in access to high quality services, choice of interventions, integrated physical and mental health care, prevention initiatives, funding and challenging stigma were people’s top priorities as to how the system needs to change by 2020.

Following publication of the strategy, the taskforce continues to work with the organisations responsible for health and care services to ensure that clear implementation plans are developed and that real transformation happens on the ground. The taskforce can be contacted via their mailbox at england.mhtaskforce@nhs.net.