The future of the mental health workforce

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Graham Durcan, Jessica Stubbs, Steve Appleton and Andy Bell

19 September 2017

Mental health services have experienced great change in the way they are designed and delivered over the last few decades. But what of the people who are expected to deliver them?

In this report written by the Centre (on behalf of the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network, commissioned by NHS Employers and supported by Health Education England), we explore what the mental health workforce of the future should look like. Through extensive consultation, we examined the challenges facing the existing workforce, enabling us to construct a vision for its future.

More than 100 people participated in consultation events and discussions for this report, bringing a wide range of personal and professional experience of mental health services.

The report’s findings focus on three key areas of workforce development and planning:

  • Recruitment, retention, training and skills
  • Structure and roles of the workforce
  • Culture of the workforce

The report makes 22 recommendations for policy, practice, education and training, in order to stimulate the changes that need to begin now to create a workforce for the future. We have highlighted 4 key calls to action

  1. For mental health careers to be promoted in schools and colleges: to build on growing awareness and understanding about mental health to encourage young people to aspire to work in the sector when they’re considering their career choices
  2. For all mental health service providers to support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff: to become ‘compassionate organisations’ that care for the people who work in them
  3. For mental health workers to get training in the skills they will need in the future, including in coproduction, community engagement and psychological interventions
  4. For people to be able to build their careers more flexibly, working in a range of different settings and sectors, and taking on new roles as they get older


Let’s get better mental health support for all

The coronavirus pandemic is a physical health emergency on a global scale, such as we have never seen in our lifetimes. But it is also a mental health emergency.

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