We’re pleased the UK government is set to announce an evidence-informed Winter Mental Health Plan, which will include improved access to talking therapies at its heart.

The plan, which was raised by Mental Health Minister Nadine Dorries MP during questions in the House of Commons on the mental health impact of the pandemic, will also include a campaign to help people access the support they need when they need it.

These were key elements of our Covid-19 campaign and we’re writing to government to offer our support in bringing this plan forward as well as pushing for greater funding for counselling and psychotherapy to meet the growing demand.

Ms Dorries said: “Overall, our response to the mental health impacts of the pandemic must be driven by the best possible evidence.

“Public Health England is currently piloting a national surveillance system to monitor suspected suicide and self-harm by collecting data from local systems in near real-time.

Winter plan

“This will allow us to identify patterns of risk and inform national and local responses. I can also announce we’re developing a winter plan for wellbeing and mental health, and I hope to return to the House with more information on this shortly.

“It’s okay not to feel okay during this difficult time, and we’ll support everyone in getting the help they need.

“I’m pleased to announce the NHS will launch a major campaign to encourage people who may be struggling with common mental health illnesses to come forward for help.

“Talking therapy services will continue to be made available remotely, so people can access help safely from home.

“While we know anecdotally some people’s experiences of digital mental health services have been very positive, we also know they do not work for everyone, particularly people with more serious mental health illnesses.

“The NHS will work to ensure the option of face-to-face support is provided to people with serious mental health illnesses across all ages where it is clinically safe to do so.”

Campaign success

Martin Bell, our Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “We’re pleased to see our campaign to ensure counselling and psychotherapy is central to tackling the mental health impact of the pandemic has been heard and is having a positive impact.

“Thank you to the thousands of our members and our friends who signed our petition and contacted their MP to grow wider support for these vital measures. 

“We’re also grateful to our 27 campaign partners who joined the fight to secure improved access to counselling and psychotherapy for the people and communities who have suffered most during this pandemic.   

“But the government needs to get this right and we’ll be continuing to make the case that the plan must provide adequate funding and draw on the expertise of our skilled and professional members if it’s going to support the growing number of people whose mental health has suffered during this challenging year.”