National mental health director and trust chief executive Claire Murdoch considers the progress made since the release of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and what lies ahead over the next four years.
We are currently marking the first anniversary of the publication of the Mental Health Task Force report and there are three things I want to say about this: thank you, thank you, and thank you.
My first thank you is to Simon Stevens for commissioning the Independent Task Force; to Paul Farmer for leading it; and to the thousands who contributed.
The resulting report has not sat on a shelf. Indeed it has provided a credible road map for all of us who believe that better mental health services are an essential component of a civilised and vibrant society and NHS. It also led to me joining the team at NHS England with senior responsibility for the implementation of 20 plus recommendations for the NHS, and delivery of the most ambitious and exciting plan for mental health in a generation.
My second thank you is to the workforce. Over the past year, I have witnessed impressive determination across the NHS and beyond, to drive improvements in mental health services. We published our implementation plan in July: a clear, muscular plan, low on frills and high on deliverables. With sign up from NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, the Department of Health and Health Education England, it aims to deliver timely, evidence-based interventions to a million more people by 2021.
A short time on, we have already seen some impressive delivery against this, which include:
- The first ever national access standard for children and young people with an eating disorder is now being measured in community teams.
- New funds have supported improved specialist perinatal community services across 90 clinical commissioning groups.
- 87.8 per cent of people entering psychological therapy treatment waited less than six weeks.
- 10,000+ people with a first episode of psychosis started treatment with a specialist team
- 74 per cent of people who started this treatment did so in two weeks.
This is just a snapshot of what’s been going on – you can see more in our One year on report
. We have a huge range of plans to improve mental health, from community eating disorder services for children to psychological therapies for people with physical health conditions or court diversion schemes – and lots in between. These treatments are almost completely new on a national scale and it is thrilling to know they will be mainstream by 2021.
It has been heartening to see commissioners shaping their mental health strategies, investing in what works and to see GPs and providers across the spectrum making more accessible, evidence-based care a reality.
We’re now seeing integrated models in primary care, in the management of long-term conditions, in A&E departments and on the wards of acute hospitals. These are all examples of the benefits of intervening swiftly and expertly in interrelated physical and mental health conditions and settings.
We’re also seeing new emerging roles that maximise the talent and skills of those with lived experience of mental health problems. Peer support workers, trainers, those working in recovery colleges or patient-led organisations. Increasingly their impact is moving from consultancy, co- production, into commissioning and providing services themselves.
The motivation and passion in mental health to do better, differently and innovatively is inspiring. Our workforce, in primary care, acute, in new and existing services, have been tremendous – so to them, and to the commissioners who invested in better mental health services, I say thank you.
My third thank you is to the visionaries who do not necessarily work in traditional mental health settings. Those in schools, housing, industry, prisons, voluntary groups, politics, media; all those, who have understood and embraced the fact that we all have a responsibility to challenge stigma, to create a different narrative and to take positive action around better mental health. It is to those of you who have understood the human, economic and practical case for change that I say thank you for making mental health all our business.
We have made a strong start and must redouble our focus and efforts to achieve our aims to 2021. I feel both proud and privileged to be leading this work and to be doing so alongside such brilliant people. Here's to the next year!
Claire Murdoch is the national mental health director for NHS England and chief executive of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, a member of the Mental Health Network. Follow Claire on Twitter @ClaireCNWL
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