The NHS won’t achieve the mental health revolution without the support of small charities

Claire Murdoch, NHS National Director for Mental Health, shares her vision for the future of mental health – a future in which the NHS and local partners work hand in hand to ensure people with mental health issues get the best care possible, as close to home as possible.

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Over 35 years I have had the privilege of working with so many impressive people and organisations dedicating their time and energy to making a difference to the lives of people with mental health issues. I have seen how small charities have been fighting against stigma, loneliness and lack of resources for decades. Today, I am so proud of the mental health revolution we are conducting together throughout England – a revolution that wouldn’t have happened without the support of our partners working tirelessly on the ground. On World Mental Health Day, I want to pay tribute to their dedication and thank them for their continued support.

It is an exciting time for our sector: the NHS Long Term Plan has committed a new ringfenced local investment fund worth at least £2.3 billion a year in real terms by 2023/24 to ensure that the NHS provides high quality, evidence-based mental health services to an additional two million people. We have been working in close partnership with stakeholders all over the country to decide what this extra money should be used for – and where it could make the most difference.

Last year we called on our partners for recommendations, and received contributions from more than 150 organisations, representing the voices of over 27,000 people. I was really impressed by the engagement of the sector, which supported us in developing ambitious plans for mental health. We published these plans over the summer and are now already working hard to make them a reality.

I often say that the NHS won’t achieve the mental health revolution by itself; we can’t deliver our plans without the support of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. We need to reinforce the links between charities and our services at the local level to achieve our ambitious objectives.

One of these objectives is to transform community mental health in the next five years. After decades of under-investment and increased pressures on our services, we want to ensure that people with moderate to severe mental health issues get the best care possible, as close to home as possible. We recently announced new funding to pilot integrated models of care with GP surgeries, mental health services and local partners working together to give personalised mental health care and advice to people who most need it.

In addition, funding has also been made available to all local health systems in the country to increase provision of non-medical, community-based alternatives to A&E and hospital for those experiencing mental health crisis. These services are often provided in partnership with the voluntary sector and help to ensure we can meet local need in an effective and timely manner.

I encourage local mental health and wellbeing charities to take part in these programmes to support the much-needed transformation of mental health outlined in the Long Term Plan.

I look forward to meeting representatives of small charities at Lloyds Bank Foundation on Friday 11 October, and to discussing our plans for the next five years. I am interested in hearing new ideas on how we can better coordinate our efforts with the VSCE sector to deliver meaningful change for people with mental health issues all over the country. I am also keen to understand how smaller charities can be supported to do more. Often run by local communities, they are one of the best ways to help challenge stigma and inequalities.

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