National Policy

Since 2010, a number of key national policy documents directing children and young people’s mental health strategy have been introduced. Below, you’ll find a brief history and timeline, explaining what those documents are and why they are so important.


The 2010-2015 coalition government committed to improving mental health for children and young people, as part of its commitment to achieving “parity of esteem” between physical and mental health.

  • 2011

    A new mental health strategy

    The 2011 mental health strategy, No health without mental health, pledged to provide early support for mental health problems.

  • 2014

    Improving access

    The former Deputy Prime Minister’s 2014 strategy, Closing the Gap: priorities for essential change in mental health, included actions such as improving access to psychological therapies for children and young people.

  • 2015

    Establishing a mental health taskforce

    The Department of Health and NHS England established a Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce, which published its Future in Mind report in March 2015 and set out ambitions for improving care over the next five years.

    These include:
    – Promoting resilience, preventing an early intervention
    – Improving access to effective support
    – Care for the most vulnerable
    – Accountability and transparency
    – Developing the workforce


The 2015-2017 government announced new funding for mental health, including specific investment in perinatal services and eating disorder services for teenagers.

The training of existing practitioners in evidence-based practices, alongside the development of new roles, were key objectives to developing the workforce within children and young people’s mental health.

  • 2016

    Five-Year Forward View

    The government committed to implementing the recommendations made in The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (February 2016), including specific objectives to improve treatment for children and young people by 2020/21. This policy enhanced the ambitions put forward in Future in Mind.

  • 2017

    Green paper published

    In December 2017, a green paper on children and young people’s mental health was published for consultation, setting out measures to improve mental health support, in particular through schools and colleges.

    The green paper presented three key proposals:
    – To incentivise and support all schools and colleges to identify and train a Designated Senior Lead for Mental Health.
    – To fund new Mental Health Support Teams, to be supervised by NHS children and young people’s mental health staff.
    – To pilot a four-week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services.

  • 2018

    Commitment to implement

    The government’s Response to the Consultation on Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper and Next Steps was published in July 2018, committing to taking forward all proposals in the Green Paper, with trailblazer areas trialling the three key proposals by the end of 2019.

  • 2019

    NHS Long Term Plan

    The NHS Long Term Plan was developed to make the NHS fit for the future, getting the most value for patients and tax payers.

    The plan recognises the early development of mental health problems, prompting further commitment to expand children and young people’s mental health services, as defined within the ‘Five Year Forward View’ strategy.

Looking to the Future

Local systems of services are expected to develop their five-year strategic plans by September 2019, with final versions submitted in November 2019. These plans are expected to describe the population needs and case for change in each area, then propose practical actions that the system will take to deliver the commitments set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

The Long-Term Plan Implementation Framework summarises these commitments alongside further information to help local system leaders refine their planning and prioritisation. This includes detail about where additional funding will be made available to support specific commitments and where activity will be paid for or commissioned nationally.

The framework reiterates key features of local plans, which should:

  • be clinically led: with systems identifying and supporting senior clinicians to lead on the development of implementation proposals for all Long-Term Plan commitments that have clinical implications and for their plan overall;
  • be locally owned: closely involving local government and the voluntary sector as plans develop, and giving local communities (including those often most marginalised) a chance to inform their thinking;
  • include realistic workforce planning: with realistic workforce assumptions, matched to activity and financial constraints, in line with the Interim NHS People Plan;
  • be financially balanced: with systems showing how they will deliver commitments within resources available, including plans to moderate demand and to support the financial recovery of individual organisations;
  • deliver all Long-Term Plan commitments and national access standards: including how they will continue to maintain and improve performance for cancer treatment, A&E, and reducing wait times for elective care;
  • be phased based on local need: as while the framework includes some national foundational requirements, it emphasises that not all Long-Term Plan commitments should be implemented at the same time everywhere; and
  • consider how to reduce local health inequalities and unwarranted variation: also showing how systems will make use of allocated funding to tackle these, and to deliver tangible improvements in health outcomes and patient experience.

The Long-Term Plan Implementation Framework is intended as an operational document to support health and care systems with their planning and was developed and tested with many of the stakeholders involved in developing the Long-Term Plan.

Further details on how the NHS Long Term Plan relates to children and young people’s mental health can be found on the NHS Long Term Plan website.