We are pleased to hear the announcement from Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, that thousands more mental health workers will be recruited by the NHS, and welcome this commitment as part of new plans to spend an extra £1.3 billion on mental health services and posts. However, as part of the expansion of mental health services, we would also implore the Secretary to consider the importance of the community in which people live, and the care and support that is given in the community setting, which is mostly provided by a skilled non-NHS workforce.
Mental health and wellbeing is not just about NHS-funded services and the majority of people are given the right care and support, for them, through different funding streams, including social care, and it is equally important to get this right. Improving mental health for all cannot be resolved without considering the whole system.
Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of Association of Mental Health Providers, commented:
“It is essential to consider the wider workforce and the knowledge and skills based in the community settings – utilising the whole workforce is vital in creating positive change and ensuring better outcomes. Increasing the NHS workforce is key; however, change cannot be achieved by just increasing clinical staff but could be by considering the wider workforce.
“Although undeniably important, the NHS is not the only answer for people with mental health needs. People want to be settled in communities with good primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, and wherever possible not have to enter the NHS. The commitment to the sector made by the Secretary of State for Health is an incredibly positive move but the Minister must consider the whole picture when looking at mental health services.”
As the only representative body for voluntary and community sector mental health service providers, we must emphasise the significant role of the VCSE sector in the delivery of services, and it is essential that the knowledge and real strength of this sector is taken seriously alongside the NHS to meet the Government’s priority for better mental health.
For more information, please contact Dania Hanif, Policy and Communications Officer, on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7766 7496.