We’re backing calls for the introduction of a Mental Health Commissioner for England.

A national role which understands and values counselling and psychotherapy would benefit the nation’s mental health and wellbeing and improve the delivery of mental health services.

In a report on the Government’s draft Mental Health Bill, a committee of MPs and Peers recommended that a Mental Health Commissioner for England role was established.

Scotland and Ireland already have mental health commissioner roles, and Northern Ireland has a mental health champion. Other countries including Canada. New Zealand and Australia also have mental health commissioners.

Now, the Centre for Mental Health has launched a briefing to highlight the benefits this new role would bring.

The charity says the role would “add a new dimension to government that would benefit all of us. They would offer sustained leadership for mental health – complementary to existing roles and structures in government.”

Mental health at the heart of government

It adds the commissioner would put mental health at the heart of government and could change the ways decisions get made.

Similar to the Children’s Commissioner role, they would have influence within government and the NHS, but with the freedom to speak out, lead public debate, challenge stigma, and break boundaries and taboos.

The Centre for Mental Health added the role “could help to galvanise action across departments and systems to improve population mental health and ensure people living with mental illness are treated fairly and equitably in every sphere of life.”

Stronger visibility and impact

Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard, our Director of Professional Standards, Policy and Research, said: “This role could give mental health a stronger visibility and impact in government, shining a light on important issues and helping politicians see decisions through a mental health and wellbeing lens. The Commissioner would advocate for mental health, not just within health but across government departments, as well as holding the government to account.

“However, it’s imperative a Mental Health Commissioner for England represents the whole of mental health. They would need to be fully informed about the wide range of different professions, modalities and services to make informed and useful recommendations.

Counselling and psychotherapy front and centre

"Counselling and psychotherapy must be front and centre of their thinking and not on the outside looking in.”

Creating a Mental Health Commissioner for England would require legislation to secure sufficient powers and independence. The Centre for Mental Health says this could be made possible with a new Mental Health Act.

Read the Centre for Mental Health’s Commissioner for Mental Health Briefing.