The government must deliver a comprehensive mental health plan, say mental health charities

31st Jan 2023
Influencing policies

Today, leading mental health charities and social enterprises have branded the newly-announced Major Conditions Strategy a betrayal of the government’s promise to develop a visionary new plan for mental health, from cradle to grave, from prevention to treatment.

  • Government scraps plans for long-term mental health strategy
  • Leading charities and social enterprises come together to recommend a new long-term approach to mental health

Alongside Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, and Samaritans, we are among the charities who are concerned that grouping mental ill-health with chronic health conditions (such as cancer and respiratory diseases) will fail to bring about the long-term government thinking needed to tackle the root causes of mental health problems or provide people with the care they need.

“The government has been publicly stating for almost a year that it would develop a 10-year plan for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems in England. This is exactly what is needed. Avoiding quick fixes and looking at every part of the wider society’s role in preventing and responding to mental health problems beyond just the health system. We need large-scale changes to protect people’s mental health.”

The charities acknowledge the important connection between mental health and physical conditions but emphasise that this should not mean scrapping a standalone mental health plan.

“The merging of the mental health plan with a Major Conditions Strategy risks excluding our children and young people, who are less likely to experience chronic ill-health, yet are the most likely to benefit from early action to protect their mental health. Prevention should be at the heart of the new plan - for all the conditions it will cover - but the government’s emphasis is on the other end of life: extending people’s healthy life expectancy.

“We need sustained investment in high-quality person-centred support for mental health and social care services, but a percentage of NHS spend should be dedicated to preventative mental health interventions, working with and developing alongside people who are more likely to experience a mental health difficulty.”

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“Our collective voice sends a strong message that to prevent poor mental health and support people with mental health problems in England, there must be a dedicated plan that shows our government is giving our mental health the priority it deserves.

The coronavirus pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have only increased the urgent need for such a strategy. England will now be the only UK country without either a dedicated mental health strategy or a commitment to creating such a plan.”

Andy Bell, interim Chief Executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said:

“It is now twelve years since the last cross-government mental health strategy was published. A lot has changed since then, including rising rates of mental ill-health. We urgently need a plan across the whole of government to help to create a mentally healthier society, to tackle the inequalities and injustices that create mental ill-health and to support public service to meet people’s needs more effectively.”

Lea Milligan, Chief Executive of MQ Mental Health Research, said:

“What we need is a concentrated strategy from the government that focuses on levelling up mental health services, provides access to early intervention for all children and an investment in mental health research. Without this focus, we run the risk of letting down the one in four people in the UK impacted by mental illness.”

Organisations involved: (A-Z)

  • Association of Mental Health Providers – Kathy Roberts, CEO
  • Anna Freud Centre – Michael Samuel, Chair of Trustees
  • Black Thrive Global – Jacqui Dyer, Director
  • Centre for Mental Health – Andy Bell, Interim CEO
  • Helplines Partnership – Paula Ojok, CEO
  • Mental Health First Aid England – Simon Blake, CEO
  • Mental Health Foundation – Mark Rowland, CEO
  • Mental Health UK – Brian Dow, CEO
  • Mental Health Innovations – Victoria Hornby, CEO
  • Mind – Sarah Hughes, CEO
  • MindForward Alliance – Poppy Jaman, CEO
  • Mental Health Network of the NHS Confederation – Sean Duggan, CEO
  • MQ Mental Health Research – Lea Milligan, CEO
  • Rethink Mental Illness – Mark Winstanley, CEO
  • Place2Be – Catherine Roche, CEO
  • Samaritans – Julie Bentley, CEO
  • Student Minds – Rosie Tressler, CEO
  • The Mix – Chris Martin, CEO
  • YoungMinds – Tom Madders, Co-CEO

Notes to editors

For further information and interview requests, please [email protected] our press inbox.

About the Mental Health Foundation

  • we have been the home of Mental Health Awareness Week since 2001
  • our vision is for good mental health for all
  • we work to prevent mental health problems
  • we drive change towards a mentally healthy society for all and support communities, families and individuals to lead mentally healthy lives with a particular focus on those at greatest risk of poor mental health
  • we are committed to promoting an anti-racist, inclusive community where we can all be ourselves
  • we rely on voluntary donations to provide evidence-based advice and carry out vital work to prevent poor mental health

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