Our response to government announcement to boost mental health staff numbers

31 July 2017

Today the government announced plans to recruit thousands more mental health workers in England.

Commenting, Isabella Goldie, Director of Development and Delivery at the Mental Health Foundation and a former mental health nurse said: 

"Today’s announcement is a welcome and an important step in addressing the historic lack of parity between mental health and physical health. The Mental Health Foundation works on the ground in communities, speaking to people with lived experience who know very well what the impact of stretched capacity in the NHS means for their treatment and recovery. 

"The announcement offers hope that there will be an increased focus on prevention and early intervention. Reaching people before crisis point and offering support that is based on the needs of the person not the system.  

"However, the recruitment of new staff has to be matched with a substantial effort to improve staff retention. The average NHS worker is taking more than 15 days off sick a year, and since 2010 we have lost thousands of mental health professionals. To encourage them back we need to think carefully about working conditions. In this the mental health and wellbeing of care professionals is just as important as those they are supporting. 

"Additional training for mental health professionals working with marginalised groups has also been announced. This means that staff will be better equipped to meet the needs of groups who are being placed at increased risk of experiencing mental health problems, including black and minority ethnic and LGBT communities, those with disabilities and people in prisons.

"This needs to be accompanied by the appointment of an Equalities Champion as recommended in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health to drive forward change. 

"So in all, today’s announcement will be warmly welcomed across the mental health sector. The challenge is to match the ambition with the detail to deliver."