Article 21.05.2021

Unmet needs in mental health care: help us prioritise high-impact solutions

Mental health care partners are invited to help prioritise three or four high-impact solutions for unmet needs in mental health care in England.

The NIHR National Mental Health Implementation Network launched a scoping exercise in April to identify specific areas of mental health care in England where there is unmet need, and which could be addressed through existing evidence-based solutions at scale.

Identifying unmet mental health needs

There was an excellent response to the scoping exercise, with mental health trusts, charities, social and educational services, and research organisations, helping to identify more than 90 mental health needs in England.

Researchers at the NIHR-funded Network then aligned these needs with those identified by other studies in England since 2015 and a review of national policy documents. Using this approach, the researchers have identified seven broad areas of mental health need and their accompanying solutions in England: 

  • Children and young people 
  • Comorbidities 
  • Inequalities 
  • Mental health systems strengthening 
  • Talking therapies
  • Suicide / self-harm
  • Severe mental illness. 

Working under the seven areas, the researchers then identified 22 mental health solutions that meet the needs of patients and health systems, may be ready for implementation, and are supported by evidence of effectiveness, including NICE guidance. 

The team are now inviting stakeholders in mental health care to rate these solutions on how well they are likely to deliver on a series of objectives, which support national and NIHR priorities.

"As part of this new expert consultation, we would also like to receive examples of how these solutions have been implemented; in other words, applications of evidence-based health care solutions in the real-world which made a positive difference in the communities they aimed to help."

Professor Jesus Perez, Mental Health Theme Lead, ARC East of England

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About the Mental Health Implementation Network

The Mental Health Implementation Network aims to drive national collaborations and changes in mental health practice, and is funded by the NIHR for three years from October 2020.

The Network is a collaboration of service users, local communities, health and care providers, commissioners and a range of regional and national stakeholders, including charities and local government. It is led by NIHR ARC South London, working closely with NIHR ARC East of England, as well as the other 13 ARCs nationally.