Posted on behalf of the NHS Confederation:

The NHS Confederation and Centre for Mental Health have worked together to identify a vision for mental health, autism and learning disability services for people of all ages in England in ten years’ time, which has now been published.

Historically, services for people with mental health difficulties, autistic people and people with learning disabilities have been underfunded. Short-term policies and workforce planning cycles have prevented them from operating sustainably. The erosion of social care and public health funding in the years of austerity in local government funding has left many local areas with limited early help or support. Inattention to inequities in services have meant that groups of people with the poorest mental health have often experienced the poorest support.

Mental health, autism and learning disability services cannot meet demand without radical changes to the way services are delivered, and that mental health service providers can’t solve the crisis in mental health and meet rising demand all on their own. Action is needed across the public sphere, from education to, housing, social care. Critically, investment is needed from government and their anticipated cross-government plan for mental health must be published and resourced without delay.

The cornerstone of this vision is that by 2032, there must be no wrong door for anyone seeking support for mental health, autism and learning disability needs. People should be able to present at any point in the system – from pharmacies, advisory services and
community groups to education, social services, the criminal justice system and primary care – and get the right support.

The vision contains a number of best practice case studies that show what the future for mental health, learning disability and autism services across the country could look like.

What should services look like in 2032?

The vision for mental health, learning disability and autism services in ten years time is built on the following key elements:

  1. Prevention. In 2032, greater effort will be made to protect and promote our mental health throughout every stage of life and to ensure autistic people and people with learning disabilities are properly supported to have fulfilling and independent lives. Locally and nationally, government and public services will take a systematic ‘population health’ approach to reducing the social and economic risk factors for poor mental health and boosting protective factors in individuals, families and communities.
  2. Early intervention. In 2032, services will not wait until someone is in crisis to offer help. Instead, early intervention will be the norm, with support front-loaded at an early stage to prevent more serious difficulties developing later on. Services will meet people where they are at, including online, at school, and in community spaces where they feel comfortable.
  3. Access to quality, compassionate care. In 2032, there will be no wrong door for anyone seeking support for mental health, autism and learning disability needs. People will be able to present at any point in the system – from pharmacies, advisory services and community groups to education, social services, the criminal justice system and primary care – and get the right support.
  4. Seeing the bigger picture. In 2032, mental health, autism and learning disability services will see the big picture as they support people to live their lives. People will get support with what matters most to them and services will help people with money, work and housing – with a package of support that is not limited to ‘healthcare’ per se.
  5. Whole-person care. In 2032, services will support people with their physical and mental health and social needs together. Services will treat people as a whole person, being mindful and respectful of their needs, assets, wishes and goals.
  6. Equality focus. In 2032, mental health, autism and learning disability services will be proactive in addressing structural inequalities and injustices. They will understand and challenge the intersecting inequalities that underpin the unequal risks of poor
    wellbeing and the subsequent inequities in access to support, experiences of services, and outcomes achieved.
  7. Co-production. By 2032, there will have been a shift in the power imbalance between people who use mental health, autism and learning disability services and the organisations that provide them. Coproduction as an equal partnership will be the norm in the design, development and delivery of services.
  8. Autonomy, human rights and community support. In 2032, service users will be reaping the benefits of a major investment in community support. As changes to the Mental Health Act will have channelled investment away from institutional and inpatient services, comprehensive support in the community will have risen up to meet people’s needs.
  9. A stronger workforce. In 2032, there is a thriving workforce of clinicians, mental health professionals, allied professions, multi-disciplinary teams and diverse experts. Resources have been put in place to buy enough of people’s time and recruit those with the requisite skill levels. Coherent workforce planning has secured this capacity for the long term.
  10. Outcomes that matter. In 2032, services at all levels will be holding the outcomes that matter to service users as their lodestar. They will be able to measure these outcomes and be held to account for them. The system will no longer be driven by the outputs that matter to institutions, but by the outcomes that matter to people.

Read the full briefing note here