The future of the mental health workforce

 The future of the mental health workforce | The Centre for Mental Health

This report is based on insights from service users, carers and professionals and outlines a list of recommendations for a sustainable mental health workforce.

It emphasises the importance of prevention, including the role of GPs in supporting people before they reach crisis point. It describes commissioning of mental health services as in “crisis” with a “shrinking workforce, growing expectations and exhausting demands” putting pressure on staff across the country.

The report makes 22 recommendations for policy, practice, education and training, highlighting 4 key calls to action:

  1. For mental health careers to be promoted in schools and colleges: to build on growing awareness and understanding about mental health to encourage young people to aspire to work in the sector when they’re considering their career choices
  2. For all mental health service providers to support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff: to become ‘compassionate organisations’ that care for the people who work in them
  3. For mental health workers to get training in the skills they will need in the future, including in coproduction, community engagement and psychological interventions
  4. For people to be able to build their careers more flexibly, working in a range of different settings and sectors, and taking on new roles as they get older

Download the full report: The future of the mental health workforce

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Quality improvement in mental health

Quality improvement in mental health | The King’s Fund

This report explores the potential opportunities arising from the application of quality improvement approaches in the mental health sector and identifies relevant learning from organisations that have already adopted these approaches.

The authors were specifically interested in understanding how and why some mental health organisations have embraced quality improvement strategies and what has enabled them to do so. It explores what changes are needed from senior leaders to cultivate a quality improvement ethos within their organisation.    

Key findings

  • Embracing quality improvement requires a change in the traditional approach to leadership at all levels of an organisation, so that those closest to problems (staff and patients) can devise the best solutions and implement them.
  • Doing quality improvement at scale requires an appropriate organisational infrastructure, both to support frontline teams and to ensure that learning spreads and is taken up across the organisation.
  • Tools and approaches used in the acute hospital sector can be adapted for use in mental health care, including in community settings.
  • Success is most likely when there is fidelity to the chosen improvement method, and a sustained commitment over time.
  • The strong emphasis on co-production and service user involvement in mental health can be harnessed as a powerful asset in quality improvement work.

Download the full report: Quality improvement in mental health

How to manage mental health at work

Speak openly with colleagues about your mental ill-health and try to build a workplace that’s mental health friendly, say the experts | The Guardian

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In recent months, a number of high-profile figures have spoken frankly about their experiences of mental health. Prince Harry has disclosed the anxiety and panic attacks he experienced following the sudden death of his mother, while former England cricketer Freddie Flintoff and rapper Professor Green have also both opened up about their mental health.

Experts welcome such open discussions on mental health, which has been a taboo subject for far too long. “It’s great that more people feel able to talk about their mental health,” says Madeleine McGivern, head of workplace wellbeing programmes at the charity Mind. “There is still a long way to go – especially in many workplaces – but things are definitely moving in the right direction.”

Hilda Burke, a psychotherapist, life coach and couples’ counsellor at her practice Hilda Burke Psychotherapy, agrees. She says there has been more awareness generally. “Several clients have come my way after their managers have offered to fund some short-term therapy.”

This move to more open discussions on the subject comes as two-thirds of British adults have admitted to having experienced mental ill-health at some point in their lives, according to research published by the Mental Health Foundation. In the Queen’s speech last month, the government set out details on how it plans to improve mental health services but failed to provide any further information on the additional 10,000 extra staff for the sector, as outlined in its manifesto.

Read the full news story here

Mental health and new care models

GPs need to prioritise mental health more, say experts. | Mental health and new models of care | Kings Fund | OnMedica

While some of the vanguard sites developing new care models report promising early results from adopting a whole-person approach, the full opportunities to improve care through integrated approaches to mental health have not yet been realised.
This Kings Fund report draws on recent research with vanguard sites in England, conducted in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The report found that where new models of care have been used to remove the barriers between mental health and other parts of the health system, local professionals saw this as being highly valuable in improving care for patients and service users. But there remains much to be done to fully embed mental health into integrated care teams, primary care, urgent and emergency care pathways, and in work on population health.

The main vehicle for rolling out what vanguards are trying to achieve are England’s sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and there are concerns, said the authors, that some STPs had limited content on mental health.

‘It is vital that STP leaders are encouraged to make mental health a central part of their plans, and that they are able to take heed of the emerging lessons from vanguard sites,’ says the report.

More mental health support is needed in GP surgeries, said the authors. They recommend strengthening mental health capabilities in the primary and community health workforce by improving the confidence, competence and skills of GPs, integrated care teams and others.

New publications from the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network

The NHS Confederation Mental Health Network has published two papers looking at the mental health workforce

The Future of the mental health workforce

The NHS Confederation Mental Health Network has published The future of the mental health workforce.  This discussion paper presents data on the current picture of the mental health workforce and looks at emerging findings from research to identify the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the mental health workforce. A final report will be published later in 2017.

Mental health and integrated care

Also published is Mental health and community providers: lessons for integrated care.  This briefing looks at how mental health and community provider organisations are exploring the multi-speciality provider model and how it can drive the delivery of integrated mental and physical healthcare.  The briefing presents key points and lessons learned.

Tackling culture change to transform mental health services

Mandip Kaur for the King’s Fund Blog | 16th March 2017

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Traditionally, mental health services are delivered by Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) up until the age of 16 or 18 – or when a young person leaves school or college – at which point they’re expected to transition to adult mental health services. It’s long been recognised that this is a poor boundary for service transition, often having a further detrimental effect on mental health.

Forward Thinking Birmingham delivers mental health services for children and young people aged up to 25, combining the expertise of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Worcester Health and Care Trust, Beacon UK, The Children’s Society and The Priory Group. The partnership’s vision is that Birmingham should be the first city where mental health problems are not a barrier to young people achieving their dreams. The transformational changes to the service were driven by the need to address disjointed and fragmented care provision, complicated service models, long waiting lists and rising demand. The service operates a ‘no wrong door’ policy and aims to provide joined-up care, focusing on individual needs, with improved access and choice for young people.

Read the full blog post here

5YfV for Mental Health: one year on

NHS England has published a report outlining the progress made in the first year of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health | NHS Confederation

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Image source: NHS Confederation

The report sets out which areas are beginning to see improved access to care and outlines examples of good local practice in services. It also recognises the ongoing challenges, adding that there is more to do to “make a reality of the aspirations for transformation in mental health services”.

The report concludes by outlining that the infrastructure needed to sustain change has been put in place and in many areas people who use services are beginning to feel the benefits of the new and expanded services on offer. It cautions that this is a long term programme which goes beyond 2020/21, stating that further work will be needed beyond the first five years to continue to expand transformation of mental health services and meet the needs of the whole population.

Finally, the report acknowledges the hard work of staff and finishes by stating that “one year on, there is clear momentum behind this programme nationally and locally: the challenge now is to maintain and build on this to achieve next year and beyond”.

Highlights from year one:

  • Over 120,000 more people are expected to receive mental health care and treatment in priority services in 2016/17.
  • The Mental Health Investment Standard is planned to be met across England as whole in 2017/18 and 2018/19.
  • The first national access standards for mental health treatment have come into effect – with the waiting time targets met.
  • A new Mental Health Dashboard has been launched to provide unprecedented transparency of performance against key indicators.
    The first comprehensive all-age mental health workforce strategy has been co-produced for publication in April 2017.

The report also highlights that not all milestones have been met as planned with progress on workforce development taking longer than anticipated due to the complexities of delivering a strategy for such a diverse group of professionals.

Read the full report here