According to a report from the National Audit Office this week, mental health services for children will not meet demand. In fact, in March, it found local areas planned to recruit only 3,410 NHS staff by 2020-21 meaning that to meet the Government targets, a quarter of new posts would need to come from outside the NHS.
As a provider to the NHS, we are already adding to the overall mental health workforce. Our counsellors deliver clinical interventions as part of NHS commissioned services to increase access for children, young people and adults. For each new post we create we frequently receive up to 100 applications.
This is because we offer new ways of working which are attractive both to those at the beginning of their career as well as established professionals. And, this is the crux of the challenge, to grow the workforce we need new entrants while also holding on those already working in mental health services.
Our staff work online from home, during hours which can support caring responsibilities. They are fully supervised and receive regular training to continue their development. The argument for digital mental health services is commonly made (and frequently by us) on behalf of those needing support, but there is a parallel benefit for those delivering that support.
New models of care create new models of working and we know from experience that many mental health workers are enthusiastic proponents of digital services.
A transformational approach to mental health support will benefit all – those in need and mental health workers alike.