Mental health services in England are under unsustainable pressure and a huge change is needed, a report has warned.

The findings from the NHS Confederation and Centre for Mental Health highlight how people in need are struggling to access vital care and the system is failing to cope with the rise in demand since the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve backed the report’s calls for a new vision for mental health in England, including sustained and sufficient investment and a radical reform of what services offer and how they work.

Dearth of investment

The organisations refer to how a “a dearth of investment and a lack of government focus on mental health provision means that staff and services are stretched to capacity with many now under crippling and unsustainable pressure.”  

In response, the report provides a 10-point vision of how mental health services need to have changed in 10 years’ time – including sections on prevention, early intervention and whole-person care.

Greater access and choice

It calls for greater focus on workforce development and delivering services in new and innovative ways, including offering greater access and choice.

It says that talking therapy services need to be more diverse, better adapted to people’s individual needs, and better integrated with other services.

And it adds the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme will have to become more comprehensive so that no one is rejected because their needs are ‘too complex,’ so that reasonable adjustments are always available, and so that Eurocentric approaches to psychological interventions are not the only available offer. This aligns with our own equality diversity and inclusion strategy.


As well as investment and reform, the report calls for the publication of the long overdue 10-year cross government plan for mental health, something we’ve repeatedly requested.  As well as mental health, it also looks at autism and learning disability services.

Commenting on the report, our Head of Policy and Public Affairs Martin Bell said: “We share many of the concerns highlighted in this report and agree that profound change is needed.

“This report paints a picture of what should have changed by 2032 – but the huge rise in demand for mental health support means the Government must begin work on this change immediately.

Urgent and renewed focus

“We need to see an urgent and renewed focus from the Government on mental health – and our members and the counselling professions must be a critical element of this.

“In particular, we continue our call for UK Government to bring forward their commitment to a fully funded 10-year mental health plan as soon as possible. This should be underpinned by a comprehensive NHS workforce plan, with sufficient funding and which fully reflects and involves the counselling workforce.”

Read the report No wrong door.