On 9 January the government released its response to the Mental Health Taskforce’s report The Five Year Forward view for Mental Health. In general, the Taskforce’s 58 recommendations were accepted, in some instances with commitments exceeding recommendations, with an emphasis on ‘building resilience, promoting good mental health and wellbeing, prevention and early intervention’.
The Taskforce, chaired by Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer, reported in February last year, setting out a detailed five-year plan for the NHS and other bodies involved in delivering mental health support services. With input from professionals and over 20,000 people with lived experience, the report stressed the need for parity of support between physical and mental health and an increasing focus on preventing mental health problems from arising or deteriorating. The key recommendations included:
- Support to an additional one million people with mental health problems by 2020/21.
- 24/7 access to mental health care for those facing a crisis.
- Equality of treatment and esteem between physical and mental health.
- Wider focus on good mental health from all areas of society, such as schools, workplaces and community organisations.
- Urgent action to ensure equality of access to mental health care, in particular for those from Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
The report was welcomed by NHS England and the then-Prime Minister David Cameron, who responded: ‘The Taskforce has set out how we can work towards putting mental and physical healthcare on an equal footing and I am committed to making sure that happens.’ The report was released alongside Theresa May’s recent announcements, focusing on more support for mental health in schools and workplaces.
On the Taskforce’s recommendation to consider whether the Mental Health Act 1983 needed to be revised, the government responded that it would continue to the keep the Act and its Code under review; but it also added that consideration is being given to whether Community Treatment Orders under section 17A could be extended to allow treatment in the community which would currently be given in hospital.
The response sets out some ambitious goals. Mind will continue to hold government to account to ensure the promises set out are delivered. The full document can be found here.