Skip to main content

Guidance for commissioners of financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable mental health services

This guide is about the commissioning of good quality, sustainable mental health services and should be of value to:

• Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), health commissioning boards in devolved administrations and local authorities – as they will jointly lead the local healthcare system with Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) and in collaboration with their communities

• Health and Wellbeing Boards – as these will have a key role in transforming health and care and achieving better population health and wellbeing through their responsibility for preparing Joint Strategic Needs Assessments, Joint Strategic Asset Assessments and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies

• NHS England – as it supports and holds to account the work of CCGs

• Public Health England – as reducing mental disorder and promoting well-being is an important part of its role as a specialist service supporting local communities

• Mental health champions in Local Authorities as they raise awareness of mental health issues in the development of council policies and strategies, and in public forums (see for example

• Service providers – these include those in primary and secondary care, Vanguard sites (as identified by NHS England’s Five Year Forward View), social care, public health, local authorities, third sector social inclusion providers, education providers, employers, the criminal justice system and services working in offender mental health

• People using mental health services – as co-production is an essential part of developing sustainable services.

These groups will need to work together to create sustainable mental health care systems, which have a focus on maintaining health in the community, building social networks, developing vocational skills and maximising independence and resilience.

This guide has been written by a group of experts in mental health and sustainability, in consultation with service users and patients, and strengthened by input from a local government and public health perspective. The content is primarily evidence-based but ideas deemed to be best practice by expert consensus have also been included. By the end of this guide, readers should:

• understand the concept of sustainability in mental health care, and how using this commissioning framework can create sustainable services

• be aware of the legislation relating to sustainability that the NHS is required to meet

• understand what sustainable commissioning looks like in practice

• understand how and why improving the sustainability of mental health interventions will contribute to achieving the aims of both the mental health, public health, NHS, and social care strategies, as well as improving quality and productivity

• be able to commission sustainable mental health services and interventions.