NHS England is establishing a taskforce to develop its new five-year national strategy for mental health, the organisation has announced.
In a statement, NHS England said it would “explore the variation in the availability of mental health services across England, look at the outcomes for people who are using services, and identify key priorities for improvement”.
“This is a chance to turn the growing awareness of mental health into action”
It would also consider ways of promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, improving the physical health of people with mental health problems, and whether the NHS was spending money and time “on the right things”.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, has been appointed to chair the taskforce. It is expected to report its findings later this year.
Mr Farmer said: “Our taskforce will aim to drive change in the delivery of services so they are first-rate for all ages.
He said stigma around mental health was “starting to reduce” and the realisation was growing that it should be given the same level of respect and importance as physical health.
“This is a chance to turn the growing awareness of mental health into action and effective delivery across England so that people can get the right help at the right time, investing in preventing problems becoming crises,” he said.
Other members of the taskforce will include service users and representatives from mental health charities and professional organisations, including the Royal College of Nursing.
“We need greater emphasis on mental health in training and education across the workforce”
Launching the taskforce, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “People are rightly no longer willing to put up with mental health as the poor relation to the rest of the health service. That’s a hugely powerful impetus for improvement.”
Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, described the taskforce as a “big moment for mental health”.
“We can tackle major challenges which include maximizing personalized, least restrictive home care, improving crisis care, reducing the 20 years premature mortality and improving transition from children’s to adult services,” she said.
Professor Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, added: “We also need greater emphasis on mental health in teaching, training and education across the workforce.”