Nimhe scrapped as DH unveils new mental health development unit

A new agency designed to support the delivery of mental health policies across England, the National Mental Health Development Unit, will be launched on 1 April.

The organisation will replace the National Institute for Mental Health in England, which is being disbanded.

Care services minister Phil Hope said the unit would help to disseminate good practice and deliver “world class mental health services everywhere”.

National focus

The NMHDU, which has a budget of nearly £7.7m for 2009-10, is designed to provide a strong national focus for the Department of Health’s key objectives. These include tackling inequalities in services for minority groups, improving access to talking therapies, and promoting mental health for the whole population.

However, responsibility for many policies is being devolved to strategic health authorities and regional government offices in line with the Department of Health’s commitment to strengthening regional leadership.

Staff previously employed in Nimhe’s regional offices will now work for SHAs and deputy regional directors in the nine government offices.

Partner organisations

NMHDU’s new director, Ian McPherson, the former head of Nimhe, told Community Care that he wanted to “broker the relationship between policymakers and the frontline”.

He said the unit would work with key partner organisations including the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS mental health providers across England.

Not only will professionals benefit from guidance on developing practice, but their experiences will be conveyed to ministers, he said.

“Putting practice into policy”

“We’re entering new partnerships with those organisations so we can work together on specific issues where they have expertise and knowledge and this can be fed back into policy,” McPherson said.

“Policy will now be co-produced. Nimhe was previously about putting policy into practice but now we’re also putting practice into policy.”

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