Association of Mental Health Providers

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The Association launches national picture of mental health social care workforce

New mapping tool improves insight into regional and national mental health workforce

24 May 2022: To establish a clearer overview of the national and regional picture of the mental health social care workforce, the Association of Mental Health Providers (The Association), the national voice of mental health charities providing services in England and Wales, has undertaken the first national mental health workforce analysis, which can be visualised via a freely available interactive map and dashboard.

The Mental Health Social Care Workforce and Census Data dashboard combines data from The Association’s members, Skills for Care workforce data and Census 2022 data; this includes demographic data relating to gender, ethnicity, religion, age, health status, and hours of unpaid care provision.

By bringing these datasets together in one place, The Association hope to improve understanding of how local, regional and national labour markets interact and what these interactions mean for workforce planning locally and regionally, particularly when reviewing specialist positions.

As of 24 May, key findings from the workforce analysis highlight:

  • Overall, the mental health workforce has over 536,000 positions filled, of which over 16,000 are specialist positions.
  • Over the last 5 years, the overall mental health workforce decreased by over 11,000 and the specialist workforce by almost 7,000.
  • 27% of the overall and 9% of the specialist workforce is on zero-hour contracts, and 88% of the whole workforce have a permanent employment status.
  • Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care Board has 1 specialist mental health role per 20,000 people within the population, whilst comparatively, South East London Integrated Care Board has 1 specialist mental health role per 667 people within the population.

Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of The Association says:

“While the entire social care system is experiencing a major shortage in workforce, this map reveals not just the extent of the shortfall in the mental health social care workforce, but the areas of specific need and specialist provision for the population living there.

“We know that over 8 million people receive support from a mental health charity providing services and feedback from our 300 plus members, delivering over 3,000 services locally, regionally, and nationally, has highlighted concerns in recruiting and retaining staff, impacting their ability to deliver services effectively.

“The overall vacancy factor of 8.7% for specialist mental health professionals, plus the emergence of a trend for these roles to be replaced by generalist posts is already having a huge knock on effect for those who need support to live safe and well within their community; one of the key findings of the BMA Mental Health workforce report workforce shortages in mental health can seriously affect staff workload, wellbeing, morale and the ability for staff to provide good quality of care.”

“This is resulting in increased pressures within community services, mental health Urgent and Emergency Care and inpatient pathways across all ages.

“Both within the NHS Long Term Plan and the Community Mental Health Framework (CMHF) there is a prioritisation of a skilled and valued workforce.

“The Community Mental Health Framework (CMHF) aspires to provide a model of personalised wrap-around care, which requires a radical contribution from the social care sector, especially in community support enhancing prevention and wellbeing interventions; many of the organisations providing the community support are from the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector.

“Addressing the workforce shortages and contracting to support the 27% of our workforce on zero-hour contracts must be a priority. We call upon government to work with us ensuring VCSE mental health workforce is included in social care workforce recruitment and retention planning.”

The workforce analysis mapping tool can be found at:

This new mental health workforce mapping resource complements The Association’s map of mental health service provision across England, which has been designed to be used by Integrated Care Systems (ICS), Local Councils, Government and other decision and policy makers in the mental health and social care sector, as well as VCSE mental health service providers, to help with planning, strategies and commissioning from local to national level.

Both resources evidence the growing challenges in the provision of and access to mental health services across England, and the challenges the VCSE sector faces.  The Association’s #MHEqualityNow campaign, launched in March, raises awareness of the exponentially rising unmet need for mental health services, and is calling on the Government to recognise the critical part mental health charities play in delivering mental health services by committing to sustainable ongoing and future funding for the sector.

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Note to editors

About the Association of Mental Health Providers

Association of Mental Health Providers is the national voice of mental health charities providing mental health and wellbeing services.

It represents:

  • 300 plus members,
  • delivering over 3,000 services locally, regionally and nationally,
  • reaching 8 million+ people with poor mental health and illness in the community. This equates to 1 in 8 people receiving support from a voluntary and community mental health provider.
  • Total membership turnover (2021/22 FY) £5.2bn

The Association can provide insight, case studies, research and expertise on all aspects of mental health. It also offers opinion and thought leadership articles on a range of mental health/mental health service provision related topics.

For more information, visit

Contact: Annie Waddington-Feather, Email:, Telephone: 07713646419

The Association support, influence, advise, and inform, and are deeply committed to discussing and reporting stories relating to mental health responsibly, helpfully, and in a way that considers the needs of the most vulnerable members of the population. Please read the media charter here.

Through its Living Experience Advisory Group, The Association is working with, being guided by, and learning from people with experience of mental health services.

The Association can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.