Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and the Welsh Language
Following my appointment as Minister for Mental Health, Well-being and the Welsh Language in October, I want to make a statement about the action that I am taking to strengthen the current governance arrangements around the overarching Together for Mental Health (T4MH) Strategy 2019-22 and our continued response to the mental health impacts of Covid-19.
I have recognised that with the increasing profile of mental health and the pace at which programmes of work have needed to be established across government, the NHS and wider partners, the current arrangements can appear complex and lack clarity in terms of overall governance and accountability. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic is having a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the population as well as mental health services. Whilst a range of actions have been taken forward to respond to this, including the revision of the TfMH Delivery Plan for 2019-22, it will be some time before the true impact of the pandemic on mental health is understood.
In response, I am establishing a Together for Mental Health Ministerial Delivery and Oversight Board for Wales (D&O Board). I will chair the D&O Board and my aim is to drive the pace of this work as well as providing greater clarity on roles and responsibility, creating a tighter ‘programme management’ approach to the overall arrangements. This will also ensure longer-term measures are in place to provide oversight, guidance and expert advice for the continued development and delivery of the mental health work programme.
The scope will include the entirety of the cross government TfMH Strategy, including the mental health response to Covid-19. Whilst the D&O Board will link with the Ministerial Task and Finish Group for the Whole System Approach, the existing joint governance arrangements for this programme of work will continue.
A strong feature of the Board will be its ability to take account of the latest analytical and wider evidence of the measures needed to prevent the acceleration of low level mental health difficulties and support mental wellbeing at both a population level and within mental health services.
The D&O Board is not, and will not, become another layer of bureaucracy. It will provide challenge and support to drive the TfMH Strategy and our continued response to Covid-19 with a clear link with academia to ensure our approach is evidence-based. The D&O Board does not replace the existing Mental Health National Partnership Board (NPB). The NPB will remain as our key stakeholder group to engage partners and to provide independent scrutiny of our progress, feeding directly into the D&O Board. I met with the NPB earlier on this month to discuss this with members.
The D&O Board will meet for the first time in the New Year when more detail on the full scope of the Board will be published along with its membership.
I know this Christmas will be very difficult for many of us, but please stay safe – and if you need support, please access the range of self-help resources that are available at: https://111.wales.nhs.uk/encyclopaedia/m/article/mentalhealth/