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The Government’s response to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health

Irrespective of your age, income or background, the likelihood is that you or someone close to you has experienced mental illness. One in four of us, around 13 million people, will have a common diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. Below the age of 16, one in ten children suffers from a diagnosable condition, the equivalent of three pupils in every classroom. In addition, up to 20% of young people experience cyberbullying on social media, which in the worst cases can lead to anxiety and depression, a concern for at least 45% of parents.

In the last few years, public awareness of mental health and mental illness has grown significantly. We talk about mental health more openly. We understand mental illness better, and we have started to remove some of the stigma that has long surrounded it. But we still have a lot more to do. As the Prime Minister has said, it is this Government’s ambition to tackle the burning injustices that persist in our society, including the inequalities caused by poor mental health and the continued inability of many people to get the mental health treatment they need.

This report sets out the Government’s response to the work of the Mental Health Taskforce, commissioned under the last Government. The Taskforce came at a critical juncture. Its report to NHS England, the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health1 was a vital contribution to the national debate on mental health, providing an independent and far-reaching overview of what modern mental health services should be.

The Government is pleased to be able to accept the Taskforce report in full. These recommendations establish the basis for an ambitious programme for NHS mental health services as described in NHS England’s Implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. The Department of Health has already supported the delivery of this plan with additional investment of £1 billion a year by 2020/21 to improve mental health services. The Government will hold NHS England to account for the effective and efficient spending of that extra funding and the delivery of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

But the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health set out a programme of reform beyond the NHS, extending across Government departments and Whitehall’s arm’s length bodies. This document is the formal response to those recommendations made to Government. It sets out a far-reaching programme of work to improve mental health services and their links to other public services, and builds mental health prevention and response into the work of Government departments to improve the nation’s mental health and reduce the impacts of mental illness.

These reforms will drive serious and sustained improvement in access to, perception of, and delivery of mental health services in this country. We want mental health services that are available 24/7 to people who need it, that are dedicated to helping people live well and be able to focus on managing their own mental health, in their homes and communities. The ambition is to deliver improvements in mental health that will lead to an additional one million people receiving high-quality care by 2020/21.

And alongside this report in January 2017, the Prime Minister announced plans to make further progress in relation to children and young people, employment, access to services, and righting the injustices people with mental health problems face. Because if we are to tackle the issues that many with mental health problems face, we must look beyond the NHS to schools, our universities, our workplaces and in our communities – and look to prevent mental illness in the first place.