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Mental health services in the NHS

On this page, we talk about our Transforming mental health report we published in 2018 and the NHS Long Term Plan that was published following this in January 2019.

Our report: Transforming mental health

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

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. 

We published a report, Transforming mental health, arguing that mental health should be central to long term plans for the NHS. The 4 priorities we set out in the report are:

  • preventing people from developing mental health problems where possible
  • improving access to support for everyone who needs it
  • supporting people to recover and live well in the community
  • tackling inequality.

You can find out more about these 4 priorities in the infoboxes below.

Read the Transforming mental health report

Transforming mental health: 4 priorities


We need to build targeted public health programmes that prevent mental health problems from developing. Such programmes could be delivered through:

  • the NHS
  • schools
  • workplaces
  • community groups.


It's time to improve the mental health support for those in recovery. That means:

  • access to good quality accommodation
  • having the right help to get back into work, education or training
  • full support and care, effectively meeting whatever needs people may have. 


We need investment that secures timely treatment and support when anyone experiences a mental health problem. Goals for services and treatment are required, focusing on preventing mental health crises. High-quality crisis services need to be prioritised. And physical and mental health services need to be better combined.


It's time to reverse existing health inequalities by investing in communities where mental health problems are more common. And by tackling institutional discrimination. We need to look at what causes the inequalities that affect how people engage with services, including racism, poverty, social exclusion, violence and trauma.

Transforming mental health in practice

The programmes below, all co-produced with people with mental health problems, show how change can be achieved in practice.

The NHS Long Term Plan

In January 2019, NHS England published its Long Term Plan, which includes a commitment 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 the amount of mental health funding being spent on services for children and young people, and promising that all young people who need specialist care can access it by 2028/9
  • improving access to IAPT talking therapies for people with anxiety, depression and other common mental health problems
  • a promise that everyone will be able to access timely, 24/7 mental health crisis support through NHS 111 by 2028/9 and an increase in the provision of alternative forms of crisis support, such as sanctuaries and crisis cafes
  • more mental health support in the community for people with severe mental health problems, for example, increased 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.

Read a summary of the NHS Long Term Plan

What we think of the NHS Long Term Plan

What do we think should come next? A comprehensive, cross-government strategy to complement the NHS plan and lead to the changes that will have an enormous impact on the day-to-day experiences of people with mental health problems.

Our Chief Executive, Paul Farmer, reflected on the NHS long term plan and shared what he thinks needs to happen next in a post over on our blog.

Read Paul's blog

Long Term Plan local guide

The NHS Long Term Plan is a document that covers how the NHS plans to improve its services and patient care over the next 10 years. Improving the availability and quality of mental health services across England is a big part of this.

To help those who are involved in shaping local strategic plans, we've published a document that sets out key questions every local plan needs to answer to ensure it meets the national ambition to transform mental health services.

The guide also highlights the critical role that communities and the voluntary sector can play in co-producing and delivering mental health services.

Read the Long Term Plan local guide

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