New Agency For New Era In Mental Health

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A new agency to ensure national mental health policies bring about real improvements for patients and carers will start work on 1 April, Care Services Minister Phil Hope announced today.

The new agency - the National Mental Health Development Unit - will succeed the current National Institute for Mental Health in England.

The change follows a review of mental health service delivery, taking into account Lord Darzi's NHS Next Stage Review and the need for more personalised services. From April, the ten strategic health authorities* will oversee much of the regional and local delivery of new mental health policies, with support from the new Development Unit.

The Development Unit will continue the momentum in co-ordinating support for key mental health projects such as:

* improving access to talking therapies;

* promoting equalities in mental health services for different groups, based on race, gender and age;

* promoting social inclusion and social justice for people with mental health problems;

* promoting well-being and mental health for the whole population; and

* supporting effective mental health commissioning.

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The unit will be led by Dr Ian McPherson, former head of the National Institute for Mental Health.

Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: "The National Mental Health Development Unit will make sure that mental health services around the country continue to go from strength to strength.

"New Horizons and the Darzi review mean we must actively promote public mental health and well-being, as well as spreading best practice and maintaining world-class mental health services everywhere. The National Mental Health Development Unit will help us do this."

Louis Appleby, National Director of Mental Health Services, said: "The National Institute for Mental Health demonstrated the importance of having a national body to help care for our mental health. Mental health care reform is as important as ever and I look forward to working with the National Mental Health Development Unit in supporting the delivery of the next generation of mental health policies."

Dr Ian McPherson, Director of the National Mental Health Development Unit said: "I am privileged to lead this new unit. I recognise that some people may be concerned that as the National Institute for Mental Health is ending, the national profile of mental health could be reduced. I am determined that will not happen.

"I look forward to working with former National Institute for Mental Health colleagues as they establish new regional arrangements to deliver mental health services in a manner more suited to the post-National Service Framework era."

Steve Shrubb, Director of the Mental Health Network, NHS Confederation said: "The NHS Confederation's mental health network looks forward to working with the National Mental Health Development Unit to build on the impressive work of the National Institute of Mental Health in England in supporting the development and implementation of key strands of mental health policy."

Sir Neil McKay, Chief Executive of NHS East of England who led the review on behalf of the Strategic Health Authority chief executives said:

"The Strategic Health Authorities welcome the Department of Health's commitment to implementing mental health policy on the basis of co-production and the establishment of the National Mental Health Development Unit to support this. Strategic Health Authorities will be using the additional resources they have acquired in these changes to ensure that the key mental health priorities of their regions identified by the Next Stage Review Clinical Pathway Groups are effectively progressed. "

Richard Webb, Joint Chair of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Mental Health Network said: "ADASS welcomes the creation of the National Mental Health Development Unit. NIMHE has played a vital role over the past decade in improving mental health services. However, the New Horizons review gives us the challenge of addressing much broader issues about mental health within society, as well as mental health care, and we look forward to working with the new unit to take these issues forward."

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