12 April 2022

Today, the Department of Health and Social Care has published a call for evidence to inform its new 10-year plan for mental health and wellbeing in England.

The call for evidence is accompanied by a Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan discussion paper which sets out the government’s aspiration to prioritise the public’s mental health and wellbeing and tackle entrenched disparities.

It aims to complement and extend the work of the NHS Long Term Plan to better address how local services can work together to prevent those at risk from falling into mental ill-health through earlier, targeted help.

This consultation is wide reaching and explores how to:
  • Promote positive mental wellbeing
  • Prevent the onset of mental ill-health
  • Intervene earlier so people get support at the earliest stage
  • Improve the quality and effectiveness of treatment for mental ill-health
  • Support people with a mental health condition to live well
  • Improve support for people in mental health crisis

The consultation covers children, young people, working age adults and older people.

Our response

We welcome the focus on earlier intervention. We know that children and adults with communication needs are at increased risk of mental health difficulties, and action is needed to promote better mental health through improved communication.

We are also pleased of the recognition that work needs to be done to support those with mental health to receive the best treatment and to live well.

We know that people in contact with mental health services have a greater incidence of speech and language therapy needs than the general population. But too many of them do not get the speech and language therapy support they and the professionals working with them need.

  • Speech and language therapists are not embedded in mental health teams as a matter of routine.
  • Speech and language therapy is a profession in short supply.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care argued that speech and language therapists should be added to the shortage occupation list, specifically referencing the increasing demand in mental health services.

Action must be taken to address this if support for all people is to be improved.

The RCSLT is responding to this call for evidence. For more information and to get involved please contact Claire Moser: claire.moser@rcslt.org

More on the role of speech and language therapy in mental health:

Mental health (adults)​ – overview​

An overview of mental health (adults) and the role of speech and language therapy

Health and Care Bill amendments debated in House of Lords

Debates on the bill took place in March

Social emotional mental health

Guidance, resources and opportunities to support you in your role working with children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs