Cross-government mental health and wellbeing plan

The College has published its response to the Department of Health and Social Care's (DHSC) mental health and wellbeing plan discussion paper and call for evidence.

In April 2022, the DHSC announced that it was committed to developing a new cross-government, 10-year plan for mental health and wellbeing for England. This is part of the government’s commitment within the Levelling Up white paper to improve wellbeing in every area of the UK by 2030. As a College, we understand that the need to address unequal outcomes and life chances across the country has never been more pressing.

From 12 April 2022 to 7 July 2022, the government launched a discussion paper and call for evidence to ask the public a range of questions to help develop the new plan. The call for evidence will also help inform the department’s plan to develop a separate suicide prevention plan that will refresh the 2012 strategy. We believe that the consultation, alongside the forthcoming update of the NHS LTP, is an opportunity to develop a world-leading mental healthcare system by 2035.

The discussion paper and call for evidence focused on six key areas:

  1. How can we all promote positive mental wellbeing?
  2. How can we all prevent the onset of mental health conditions?
  3. How can we all intervene earlier when people need support with their mental health?
  4. How can we improve the quality and effectiveness of treatment for mental health?
  5. How can we all support people with mental health conditions to live well?
  6. How can we all improve support for people in crisis?

Clearly, NHS treatment cannot be the only answer to our national mental health challenge. However, there is far less coverage of interventions to prevent associated impacts of mental illness, such as premature mortality, and negligible coverage of interventions to prevent mental illness from arising or to promote mental wellbeing and resilience.

Our final submission made recommendations for DHSC, other government departments, the NHS and its arm’s length bodies, local government, and key partners calling on them to commit to ambitious and targeted action to help achieve universal coverage by 2030, as per the United Nations Sustainable Development agenda. This action should be designed to promote good health and wellbeing, prevent mental ill, intervene at the earliest opportunity and to ensure those who need it can access timely, high-quality treatment and support.

Our response to the call for evidence is entitled, A world-leading mental healthcare system by 2035: commitments for a cross-government mental health and wellbeing plan and you can read an executive summary or our full submission below.

A Mentally Healthier Nation

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is one of around seventy organisations that have endorsed an important report calling for a ten-year cross-government strategy in order to prevent mental illness, tackle mental health inequalities, and improve services.

Mentally Healthier Nation, published on 27 September 2023, offers a powerful vision for the future of mental health and mental health services covering the following overarching areas:

  • Prevention: Give children the best start; Improve people's security; Create physically healthier environments; and Boost public mental health infrastructure
  • Equality: Tackle racism in all its forms; Set a target to close the health gap within a decade; Reform our social security system; Reform the justice system
  • Support: Fund mental health services fairly; Tackle long waits for mental health support; Give children and young people easy access to mental health support; Modernise the Mental Health Act

Signatories of this document believe that a long-term, comprehensive, cross-government plan is essential to protect and promote the whole nation’s mental health. The policies outlined in the document will form a key part of the College's engagement and campaigning work in advance of the next UK General Election.

The report calls for further investment in mental health services, building on the progress made in the first five years of the NHS Long Term Plan. It makes a case for the need to fund mental health and social care services fairly, and implement new access standards to end long waits for essential services. It also calls for urgent action on children’s mental health services, including 100% coverage of mental health support teams, and a national network of young people’s early support hubs.

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