Headlines: March 18th, 2009

A new agency – the National Mental Health Development Unit – will succeed the current National Institute for Mental Health in England as of April 1, it has been announced.

The change follows a review of mental health service delivery, which incorporated findings from Lord Darzi’s NHS Next Stage Review. From April, the ten strategic health authorities will oversee much of the regional and local delivery of new mental health policies, with support from the new development unit.

The unit will have a broader remit and drive promotion of well-being and mental health for the whole population, along with effective mental health commissioning.

The development unit will also have responsibility for driving key mental health projects such as promoting race, gender and age equalities in mental health services, also social inclusion and social justice for people with mental health problems.

The unit will be led by Dr Ian McPherson, former head of the National Institute for Mental Health. He said the shift towards new regional arrangements to deliver mental health did not mean any loss of national profile for mental health.