The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has pledged that the new public health agency will protect the public against external threats to the UK, pandemics and infectious diseases but made no mention of mental health.
The NIHP is understood to be replacing Public Health England.
"We were disappointed to hear no mention of mental health in Matt Hancock’s speech about the new National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP). Regardless of what the Health Secretary thinks, we're in the midst of a mental health emergency, proved by today's ONS data that shows a doubling in rates of depression during lockdown.
"Preventing people from developing mental health problems, intervening early on when they show signs of them and addressing inequalities should be a pillar of any taxpayer-funded public health body. And while the contribution that academia and the private sector can offer to the work of the NIHP is important, the expertise that exists in the voluntary and community sector must not be forgotten.
"Public Health England had already started work on ensuring that those most at risk of poor mental health during the pandemic and beyond don’t fall through the gaps – including children and young people, marginalised groups and frontline workers – as well as assessing the impact of social distancing and isolation on the nation’s mental health. It is critical that the NIHP is tasked with continuing this work if we are to minimise the mental health fallout from this pandemic.
"Mind has set five key tests for Government in its response to the coronavirus crisis, including protecting those most at risk and supporting children and young people. The NIHP must step up to the plate to help meet these tests and we will expect to hear more detail on its plans to do so in the coming weeks."