The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health
Mental Health Taskforce, England, UK
Date: February 2016, Number of pages: 82
Review by Carline Core, Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Edmonton
This report is a guide written by the independent Mental Health Taskforce for initiating change in England’s current mental health services that are provided within the National Health Service (NHS). Its goal is to improve treatments available and positive outcomes in mental health for all individuals accessing the NHS in England. The five-year forward view is organized in chapters, with a series of 58 recommendations directed towards the government in an attempt to set the foundation of more cohesive and inclusive policies. The national strategy was chaired by Paul Farmer and vice-chaired by Jacqui Dyer. The report includes an independent body of experts who have practical experience in mental health services and provide a practical and theoretical perspective on how to implement the recommendations.
The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health aims to deliver rapid improvements in individuals access to mental health care and to improve the individuals’ outcomes following care. Another objective of the report is to breakdown negative stigmas attached to persons with mental health issues. Finally, one of the most important objectives of the book is to understand the importance of an integrated mental and physical health approach instead of treating mental and physical health independent of each other as it has been done in the past. The taskforce also acknowledges that people with mental illness have been marginalized causing them to disproportionately represent those living in poverty, thus, shedding light on the necessity of additional funds that should be provided by the government to be put towards mental health care initiatives. This investment would help ensure early intervention, ultimately removing high financial demand on the economy in the future.
Through the progression of the chapters it becomes increasingly clear that the taskforce has taken the time to do research based on first hand knowledge from people within communities who need improvements in accessibility to mental health services, to give individuals a better quality of life. This report provides a detailed image of the current state of mental health services and the problems that need to be corrected to achieve the goals set forth of providing access to high quality health care to all individuals by the year 2020. The report offers a clear and concise plan of bringing together multiple professional agencies to share in the responsibility of mental health care patients. This plan would have a major positive impact internationally. However, one hinderance may be in the inability to convince government that the investment in mental health would result in lower future costs. For this reason, I believe it is important for this initiative to be followed through to give evidence to NHS and other governments of the benefits and positive outcomes of initiating such change, perhaps by calculating the social return on investment of prevention initiatives. Another issue may be the ambitious timeframe of five years to implement these changes. If followed, the five year mark will bring change but it will likely take many more years than the estimate of five years to yield significant change and measurement of that change.
Overall, the report speaks of a reform for mental health services. I think the report offers a valuable viewpoint, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in understanding the perspective of individuals in the community as well as experienced mental health providers. It does an excellent job of showing the importance of additional investments and provides a strong basis for addressing the fundamental issues of inequality that need to be addressed further to achieve a complete and successful reform of the NHS mental and physical health integration programs. A key strategy to mobilize this initiative is by advocating in large cohesive numbers through collaboration amongst all health agencies and providers.