This week the Mental Health Taskforce published its engagement report, highlighting what 20,000 people think the priorities for the country’s mental health are. The report underlines the importance of mental health nationally and the chance we now have to make a significant change within a generation. Encouragingly, one in four of the responses identified prevention as a key priority for action by 2020 and beyond.
Image: Mental Health Foundation
At PHE we are committed to prevention and to improving the country’s mental health and are working with our partners to help achieve this required shift to prevention. The work of the mental health taskforce is part of the 5 Year Forward View – and the Prevention Board that supports this is chaired by PHE’s chief executive Duncan Selbie.
I am proud to be a member of the Mental Health Taskforce and to be leading PHE’s work on mental health. In our new PHE action plan for 2015/2016, and in our October 2014 Evidence into Action priorities document we highlight the importance of mental health.
Our work so far on mental health includes:
- establishing the ground breaking National Mental Health, Dementia and Neurology Intelligence Network with NHS England
- leading on the public mental health leadership and workforce development framework
- delivering a series of products to improve the lives of those living with and recovering from mental illness - Smoking cessation in secure mental health settings and The Lester Tool
- developing guidance for schools and colleges on children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing.
In addition, we have issued Guidance for developing a local suicide prevention action plan, launched a Local suicide prevention profile tool and commissioned an innovative, national web-based platform for people with mental health difficulties to share their lived experiences - ‘A day in the life’.
Finally, we have set out our approach to community-centred approaches that improve resilience, health and wellbeing and worked closely with the team from the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, as we look beyond illness into the assets that individuals families and communities can bring to prevent mental illness and promote healthier lives.
Looking ahead, we and our partners are determined to make the prevention of mental illness a key feature of national work. We need to think and act differently if we want to achieve different results and this is a significant opportunity for a step change towards prevention.
This is exactly the reason why we have established the National Prevention Alliance for Mental Health – a group of over thirty organisations with a passion for collaborative working and making a difference.
As an alliance, we are committed to addressing the social determinants of mental health; good jobs, decent homes, supportive friends and family, quality education, accessible healthcare and a living income. We also want to support:
- the development of a national mental health and wellbeing literacy programme
- using intelligence wisely for prevention
- encouraging the adoption of community based approaches to help harness local assets and the potential of strong local social networks
- building the capacity, skills and confidence of the workforce.
We will also continue to focus on and support the implementation of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, improving the health of people with a mental illness and those with a long term condition (mental and physical long term condition or disability including learning disability) and improving mental health across the life course.
Building our knowledge about what works for prevention also depends on developing a research programme on public mental health and wellbeing.
I am dedicated to championing good mental health in our country and motivated by this biggest chance in a generation to make a real difference.
There is a lot to be done. Over the next few weeks we will be working with our partners to develop a set of practical recommendations that will make a real impact over the next 5 years and I look forward to the publication of the Taskforce’s full report in October.
I am dedicated to championing good mental health in our country and motivated by this biggest chance in a generation to make a real difference. We must and will do more together to put prevention at the heart of mental health.