A revolution in mental health information

In a recent blog ‘A revolution in mental health information‘, Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, explains why the Mental Health Dementia and Neurology Intelligence Networks represent a revolution for mental health services.

Their launch represents the work of over 400 mental health experts from all sectors, including service users, public health, clinicians, academics, data analysts, health economists, quality improvement managers and others.

For far too long in mental health we have had to listen to the criticism that “mental health has no data”. The intelligence networks put paid to that view.

This remarkable collaboration has brought together the thirteen agencies that hold the forty-five rich sources of national mental health data. It has turned data into information and then into intelligence.

This is just the start of the journey. But it’s a journey that will, in time, over the coming years, fundamentally change the mental health provision of care in this country. The intelligence network, with its leaders, its intelligence, its spirit of collaboration and partnership, is key to helping us achieve parity of care for those with mental health.

But what will this mean in practice? What will it mean for patients? What will it mean for community leaders including commissioners and providers of services?

Very practically, the MHIN provides to each CCG commissioner and each local authority, information across the pathway of commissioned care, and enables local partners to work together to address the questions:

  • What type of community do we have? What are its assets?
  • What are its characteristics that will determine the types of conditions people may develop who live here?
  • What is the level of mental health need in our community?
  • What types of mental health conditions are more common in our area?
  • What can we do to support high risk groups avoid the development of illnesses?
  • To what extent have our primary care services been able to identify and recognize early illnesses such as depression and anxiety conditions, psychoses, children and young people’s conditions, dementia, eating disorders?
  • What services are commissioned in primary care mental health and by local social care?
  • What services are commissioned from specialists by the local CCG: for example, how many psychological therapists, how many employment supports, how many beds and what intensive treatment teams work locally?
  • What modern therapies recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) is available for patients?
  • How well do we spend our funding in this area? What are the outcomes for patients?
  • Where does this community need to work together to lead improvement?

So what are the plans for this work in the next year?

The intelligence we are providing is being tested by rapid adapter local commissioners and communities. We are very grateful to Liverpool, Devon and East London for their support.

This intelligence will form the basis of the mental health intelligence competency module for the national 211 CCG mental health leaders programme starting shortly.

Our strategic clinical networks and academic health science centres are using the intelligence to build ongoing courses and programmes, so that in the future, every commissioner and clinical leader will be able to access the competencies they need to support evidence based care to deliver the best outcomes for those wonderful people we serve, our mental health services users.