Statement on the abolition of public health England

The replacement of Public Health England (PHE) with a body which focuses on infectious disease control leaves us without a clear future for PHE’s public mental health functions.

In the absence of any reassurance to the contrary, we are concerned that PHE’s valuable public mental health work may be deprioritised.

The Mental Health Foundation is a charity dedicated to the prevention of mental health problems and the promotion of good mental health for all. At the end of last year, while  the new Coronavirus was emerging in China, we published our new strategy declaring that we want to be a sustainable and potent force for change, positioning us as the UK mental health charity focused on prevention and good mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this mission even more urgent than before.

Today, we have a clear statement: it is not acceptable to lose public mental health as a key national priority, especially at this time.

It is important that public mental health remains a key part of discussions about the future of public health in this country. In many ways, we were facing a mental health crisis even before the Coronavirus pandemic and we already knew that it is not possible to treat our way out of this crisis. However, public health funding in local authorities had already seen cuts year on year. Alongside the new National Institute for Health Protection, the country needs a national world class organisation dedicated to issues of population health – with a particular focus on mental health. We expect to see parity in funding and focus between physical and mental health and a national plan well integrated with local action.

Investment in prevention and in addressing the social circumstances that clearly lead to mental ill-health is one of the most important tasks of any modern government because so much of a country’s potential is dependent on its citizens’ collective wellbeing. We are expressing our concern and our strong motivation for retaining a national public mental health function for the sake of the wellbeing of the people of this country.

Blog on what's next for public mental health

We talk you through the Foundation's thoughts on what the reform of Public Health England means for the future of public mental health.

Read more