Mental health focus: Taskforce publishes five year NHS strategy

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “For too long there hasn’t been enough focus on mental health care in this country meaning too many have had to suffer in silence.


This week saw the publication of a long awaited report from the independent Mental Health Taskforce which commits to the biggest transformation of mental health care across the NHS in a generation, pledging to help more than a million extra people and investing more than a billion pounds a year by 2020/21.

The taskforce, which was formed in March 2015, 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.

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health for the NHS in England, is a national strategy, which covers care and support for all ages, 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, chaired by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, was 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 a wide ranging package of recommendations, the report proposes a three-pronged approach to improving care through prevention, the expansion of mental health care such as seven day access in a crisis, and integrated physical and mental health care.

The key recommendations are:

  • By 2020/21, one million extra people will be provided with support for their mental health problem.
  • People facing a crisis should have access to mental health care 24/7 – right care, right place, and right time.
  • People’s mental and physical health should be treated equally – including people with severe mental health problems, women in the perinatal period, children and young people.
  • All areas of society, such as schools, workplaces and community organisations need to contribute to the promotion of good mental health and prevention of mental health problems – in all areas of people’s lives.
  • Too many people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities have problems accessing good quality mental health care and have lost faith in services. The taskforce demands urgent action to ensure that everyone gets the help they need, irrespective of their background or the communities they belong to.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “For too long there hasn’t been enough focus on mental health care in this country meaning too many have had to suffer in silence.

“The Taskforce has set out how we can work towards putting mental and physical healthcare on an equal footing and I am committed to making sure that happens.

“This means that if you are struggling with a mental health condition you will get the help and support you need.”

The report’s publication has been welcomed by mental health charities, including Rethink Mental Illness. The charity’s CEO Mark Winstanley is a member of the Taskforce.

Speaking to SHP about what the strategy means for mental health at work, Paula Reid, Policy Manager at Rethink Mental Illness said: “We were pleased to see that the independent Mental Health taskforce recommends that NHS England, the Department of Health and the Department of Work and Pensions work together to ensure that up to 29,000 more people per year living with mental health problems receive the support they need to find or stay in work. This includes increasing access to talking therapies to help people manage anxiety and depression and ensuring people have access to other proven interventions, such as Individual Placement and Support for people with severe mental illness. We know that many people want to work to help them on the road to recovery, but the proper support needs to be in place to make this a reality.

“The taskforce also makes recommendations to support NHS employees’ mental health; ensuring that they demonstrate best practice in managing mental health at work  and providing occupational mental health expertise from 2016 onwards. NHS England should also be introducing incentive payments to promote support for staff health and wellbeing across the service to ensure people are supported in their workplace. We welcome these initiatives and would like to see more organisations taking steps like these.”

Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs at Rethink Mental Illness said: “This report has been a long, long time coming and marks a hugely significant moment in the potential transformation of care for people with mental illness.

“With our partners Mind, we gathered evidence from over 20,000 people into the Taskforce and all they asked for, time and again, was the same level of quality treatment that would be there for a serious physical illness.

“This is now the chance to make a reality of that hope. But even the best of reports quickly gather dust on shelves; transforming services so that they support people in the way they should is a very complex task, particularly given the long history of chronic underfunding.

“The Taskforce is independent, and these are only recommendations, although it is deeply heartening to see such a positive response from both the Government and NHS England, who have accepted the recommendations in full.  So the important thing now is for all the players in the system to find a way to deliver these recommendations so that we see real change on the ground. That requires a clear plan to measure, report and deliver on the plan.  This is an opportunity that must not be lost.”

For more detail on the Mental Health Taskforce, visit:


The taskforce can be contacted via their mailbox at



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.