A ‘mental health crisis care agreement’ for London was announced in July – which aims to provide better access, experience and outcomes for people using mental health services in London.
The agreement, between health organisations and London Councils as well as the Metropolitan Police and the London Mayor’s office, outlines a vision that all Londoners experiencing a mental health crisis, have equal access to timely help which is best suited to their needs.
It has been developed with ‘experts by experience’, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities, carers, the police, and voluntary sector organisations. It sets out a path for keeping people safe, free from harm, and able to access the care they need in the right place at the right time.
The document details plans for:
- Preventing mental health crises by supporting people to live well in their communities
- Ensuring access to timely and appropriate crisis support for those who need it
- Building on the success of the mental health joint response cars, which have been operating seven days a week across the capital for two years; and
- Introducing NHS 111 First for Mental Health, which will be launched nationally in April 2024, and will provide support for people experiencing a mental health crisis and ensure people have help to access the best care for them.
Organisations in health, social care, and beyond are signing up to the agreement which pledges that assessment and detention under the Mental Health Act should only occur when detention is the only option to support someone out of crisis and should always be a last resort. Support for people in crisis will be tailored to each person’s needs and will ensure their voice, and the voices of their families and carers are central to decisions made about their care.
Additionally, it sets targets to increase access to community mental health services. These include ensuring as many people as possible are seen by community mental health services within four weeks and increasing the number of people from minority ethnic groups accessing these services while ensuring people get the most appropriate care for them at the right time.
The agreement document showcases the Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service which was set up in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (now part of the newly formed North Central London Mental Health Partnership, part of NCL ICS). The service, operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, was set up to offer a calm, therapeutic environment for those experiencing a mental health crisis and provides an alternative to Emergency Departments.
Since the launch and ongoing success of the service, similar models are being rolled out across other ICBs within the capital.
London’s All-Age Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat can be viewed on the NHS London website here.