Young Asian man working in healthcare is sat at a group meeting

Concerted action needed to build a more diverse mental health workforce for the future, says Centre for Mental Health

10 April 2024

Expanding and diversifying the mental health workforce will be crucial if it is to meet growing levels of need, a new briefing has said today.

Building a mental health workforce for the future says that developing the workforce is at the heart of closing gaps in treatment, quality, equity and life expectancy in mental health care.

The NHS mental health workforce has grown quickly since 2019, but it needs to keep growing over the next decade to meet rising levels of need. There are especial challenges in inpatient mental health nursing, with high absence and vacancy rates putting pressure on staff and patients alike.

Drawing from a roundtable on the mental health workforce, co-hosted by Centre for Mental Health, Mind and the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, the briefing highlights the challenges facing the NHS as it seeks to implement its Long Term Workforce Plan.

However, it says that truly meeting the mental health needs of the nation will require not just ‘more of the same’, but a workforce with a more diverse range of roles and skills, better representation of the communities it serves, and action to bolster staff retention.

Building a mental health workforce for the future notes that the wellbeing of the mental health workforce continues to be under-valued and poorly served, particularly in the wake of the trauma experienced by many staff during the pandemic.

The briefing says that as well as boosting the profile of a range of careers in mental health, training providers should modernise curricula to develop staff skills in social as well as clinical interventions, and recognise the role that digital technologies can have in providing care.

Centre for Mental Health chief executive Andy Bell said: “The mental health workforce needs to grow to help services to meet rising levels of need. But it also needs to diversify and offer people a wider range of opportunities to work in mental health. We must plan now for the kind of skills and services we will require in a decade’s time. And we need to support the workforce we have with decent working conditions in compassionate organisations.”

Download the report

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