News story

Mental health action plan: PHE response

Improving the public's mental health and wellbeing is one of the most important goals for our modern public health system.

In their foreword to the government’s new mental health action plan published on 20 January 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb express their ambition for more to be done to prevent mental ill health and promote mental wellbeing.

Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE) said:

This is a challenge that PHE is seizing with both hands, supporting local authorities in their work and providing national leadership on mental health for the public health system.

In the spring we will be launching: a national framework for action for the new public health system; a new National Mental Health Intelligence Network, in partnership with NHS England; a series of evidence summaries on the best evidenced interventions for improving the public’s mental health; and a new health and wellbeing strategy for PHE staff, which embeds action on mental health and reflects our ambition to become an exemplary employer.

PHE’s aim, as part of our mission to protect and improve the nation’s health and address inequalities, is to help the public health system achieve ‘public health parity’ for mental health. In practice this means:

  • working to address the social determinants of mental health – for example, having access to, having and keeping a good job, a decent home, a good education, good health, a decent income and close relationships
  • encouraging people, employers and society to positively welcome and embrace the talents, capabilities, experiences and skills of people with experience of living with and recovering from mental health difficulties
  • ensuring that people living with and recovering from mental health difficulties are encouraged, supported and enabled to improve their physical health to help address the shocking disparities in life expectancy experienced by people with mental illness
  • ensuring that we view the causes of our major health challenges with a mental health lens – from obesity to drug and alcohol misuse to smoking. Without a focus on how people think, feel, behave and relate (their mental wellbeing), we will not make the progress we need to
  • championing the public health agenda within the mental health arena – giving more emphasis to promoting mental wellbeing, physical health, social connectedness and relationships and prevention as effective ways of addressing some of today’s major challenges