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Mental Health Taskforce

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health: A report from the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England was published in February 2016. The Taskforce was launched by NHS England and was independently chaired by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind.

The Mental Health Taskforce made a series of recommendations for improving outcomes in mental health by 2020/21, encompassing three broad areas:

  • First, the Taskforce makes a set of recommendations for the NHS arm’s length bodies [NHS England, Public Health England, Care Quality Commission, NHS Improvement and Health Education England] to achieve the ambition of parity of esteem between mental and physical health for children, young people, adults and older people.
  • Second, the Taskforce set out recommendations where wider action is needed. This includes cross-Government action, in areas such as employment, housing and social inclusion.
  • Thirdly, the Taskforce places a particular focus on tackling inequalities, including the higher incidence of mental health problems among people living in poverty, those who are unemployed and people who already face discrimination. It also addresses inequalities in access to services among certain black and minority ethnic groups, whose first experience of mental health care often comes when they are detained under the Mental Health Act, frequently with police involvement.

The recommendations to be delivered by 2021 include:

  • an end to the practice of sending people out of their local area for acute inpatient care
  • providing mental health care to 70,000 more children and young people
  • supporting 30,000 more new and expectant mothers through maternal mental health services
  • new funding to ensure all acute hospitals have mental health services in emergency departments for people of all ages
  • increasing access to talking therapies to reach 25% of those who need this support
  • a commitment to reducing suicides by 10%

The Government has said it welcomes the report’s recommendations, and will work with NHS England and other partners to establish a plan for implementing its recommendations.[1] The Minister for Community and Social Care, Alistair Burt, said:

  1. By the end of this Parliament we will make the Taskforce’s recommendations a reality.[2]

The Government’s Mandate to the NHS 2016-17 also contains a directive for the NHS to implement agreed actions from the Mental Health Taskforce.[3]

The report also called for an additional investment of £1 billion by 2020/21 to implement change in the priority areas identified by the Taskforce. In response, the Government pledged that an extra £1 billion will be invested in mental health care by 2021 and a million more people will get mental health support.[4]

A House of Commons Library briefing, Mental health policy in England (CBP-7547) provides a summary of Government policy introduced under the 2010-2015 Coalition Government, and under the 2015 Conservative Government.

[1]     HC Deb 23 February 2016 c153-4

[2]     PQ 28310 [on Mental Health Services: Finance], 29 February 2016

[3]     Department of Health, The Government’s mandate to NHS England for 2016-17, page 18

[4]     Department of Health, New investment in mental health services, 16 February 2016


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