The future of the mental health workforce

NHS CONFEDERATION. Mental Health Network
NHS Confederation
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This discussion paper presents data on the current picture of the mental health workforce and emerging findings from the research to identify the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the mental health workforce. The paper sets the policy context, observing that both the Future in mind report for children and young people’s mental health and the Five year forward view for mental health argue that improving access to, and outcomes from, mental health services requires the right workforce. The paper suggests that in addition to the impact of mental health service changes, the future shape of the mental health workforce will be affected by a range of wider developments and policy changes, which include: apprenticeships, education funding reforms, new roles, flexible working, retention, STPs, Vanguards and New Models of Care, the Brexit effect, the Carter Review, rising demand, tackling inequalities in access, focus on access and waiting times and outcomes, and reducing inappropriate out of area placements. The paper also gives an overview of a selection of key available statistics relating to the current clinical mental health workforce, including: psychiatry, mental health nursing, nursing support staff, psychology and other therapies, social care and primary care. Finally, the paper highlights some of the key themes of a vision for the future: need to create more flexible career paths; importance of peer support and new roles such as navigators; a role for mental health professionals in providing advice and consultancy to other workers; need to train mental health professionals to work in different ways; importance of ensuring that new and emerging roles such as nursing associates and physician associates are adapted successfully to mental health support; need to address attrition rates in mental health services; need to find local solution while maintaining consistent standards nationwide; and importance of providing opportunities for older workers to continue to practise. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
mental health care, mental health professionals, staff retention, recruitment, staff development, professional role;
Content type:
United Kingdom
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