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Mental health services in the NHS

On this page, find out what we think should be the priorities for the NHS when it comes to mental health. And learn what we think of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Our priorities for the NHS

For too long, mental health services have been overstretched and underfunded in the NHS. This means many people with mental health problems haven't got the help they need.

In 2018, the government announced it was increasing investment in the NHS. Following this, we set out our vision for transforming mental health services in England. 

In our report, Transforming mental health, we argued that mental health should be central to long term plans for the NHS. We set out 4 priorities for the NHS, which you can read about below.


We need to build targeted public health programmes that stop mental health problems from developing. These programmes could be delivered through the NHS, schools, workplaces, and community groups.


We need to improve mental health support for people in recovery. That means:

  • Access to good quality accommodation
  • Having the right help to get back into work, education or training
  • Support and care which meets people's needs


We need timely treatment and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We need goals for services and treatment which focus on preventing mental health crises. We need to prioritise high-quality crisis services. And better combine physical and mental health services.


It's time to reverse health inequalities. The NHS needs to invest in communities where mental health problems are more common. And tackle institutional discrimination. We need to look at the causes inequalities that affect how people engage with services. Including racism, poverty, social exclusion, violence and trauma.

Read the Transforming mental health report


The NHS Long Term Plan

In January 2019, NHS England published its Long Term Plan. The plan promises to increase funding for mental health services by £2.3 billion per year. If delivered, it'll mean more NHS money will go to mental health services.

Other commitments in the plan include:

  • Increasing mental health funding on services for children and young people
  • Promising that all young people who need specialist care can access it by 2028 to 2029
  • Improving access to IAPT talking therapies for people with anxiety, depression and other common mental health problems
  • Promising that everyone will be able to access 24/7 mental health crisis support through NHS 111 by 2028 to 2029
  • Increasing alternative forms of crisis support, like sanctuaries and crisis cafes
  • More mental health support in the community for people with severe mental health problems, like better access to psychological therapies and employment support

This much-needed plan is welcome. But a number of big questions remain unanswered, particularly around how something so ambitious can actually be delivered.

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