Investing in trained, paid professionals and increasing access to a choice of therapies were among the topics of discussion during an online roundtable event we hosted as part of our Covid-19 campaign.

The event’s key speakers were Labour Shadow Minister for Mental Health Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, Norman Lamb, Chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, and Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.

They all made powerful and passionate cases stressing the importance of mental health being at the the centre of the Government’s Covid-19 response.

The online roundtable - hosted by us, BPC and UKCP -  then moved on to a discussion involving the speakers and representatives from the 26 partners of our Covid-19 campaign, and invited representatives from some important allies including the Centre for Mental Health, Rethink Mental Health, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society.

Choice of therapies

They discussed a range of topics including: the importance of using the existing trained and under-utilised therapy workforce, access to and choice of therapies, highlighting the accredited registers programme, the impact of Covid-19 on different groups and the research and policy work being carried out by different organisations.

The event was held on Zoom and attendees also took part in a text discussion, sharing expertise and thoughts on the different issues being raised.

Key speakers

A growing demand for treatment will put pressure on mental health services like never before and the government has to ensure that services have the resources they need to cope.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, Labour Shadow Minister for Mental Health

The Government has got to make an investment in increasing the capacity of the system, avoiding over-pathologising, but recognising that we need to meet need when it occurs.

Sir Norman Lamb, the former Care Minister and Chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition

We should be making sure mental health is wired into a whole range of policy discussions right at the outset; that we look through a mental health lens.

Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust

The discussion was chaired by Chris Thomas, Senior Research Fellow at Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).

Our Chair Natalie Bailey concluded the event by thanking participants and reflecting on the contributions and the importance of work ahead.

Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead, who organised the event, said: "We were delighted by the high calibre of all the contributions, discussions and the speakers themselves.

Important opportunity

"This was an important opportunity for us to listen, share ideas and collaborate with leading thinkers from across the mental health sector. It was  aimed at helping us secure the greatest possible impact with our campaign to ensure that counsellors and psychotherapists work is at the heart of the government’s response to Covid-19.

"It was evident from the discussions that there is widespread support for our campaign proposals for Government to utilise the fully-trained counselling workforce in helping the nations of the UK through the many challenges brought about by the pandemic  

"At the outset of this crisis we worked rapidly to draw together partners from across the counselling sector together with key mental health allies to strengthen our campaign work  We’re looking forward to continuing to collaborate with this important coalition to give us the greatest chance of success."