BMA report

Mental health workforce report

Our report shows the declining state of the mental health workforce, the workforce's wellbeing and data on workforce numbers.

Location: England
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Tuesday 8 February 2022
Topics: NHS delivery and workforce, Your wellbeing
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Recent commitments to support and expand the mental health workforce have fallen short of their goals.

To assess progress against these commitments and identify where further action is required, we have analysed workforce data and conducted a survey of healthcare professionals working in the sector.

This has helped us to build a picture of the state of the mental health workforce in England.


Key findings from the report

  • Many of the mental health workforce commitments in stepping forward to 2020/21 and the five year forward view for mental health are not on track to be met.
  • The mental health workforce has had little growth over the past 10 years, many of the key staff groups either remaining at a similar level since 2009 or declining.
  • Demand within mental health services is rising - since 2016 there has been a 21% increase in the number of people who are in contact with mental health services (1.4 million in 2019 vs 1.1 million in 2016).
  • Recruitment into psychiatric specialties remains a key challenge with many psychiatric specialties facing under-recruitment year on year.
  • Workforce shortages in mental health are affecting staff workload, wellbeing, morale and the ability for staff to provide good quality of care.


Aims of the report

The report assesses progress of commitments made by NHS England, NHS Improvement and Health Education England to support and expand the mental health workforce. 

This report should be read alongside the companion report 'Beyond parity of esteem: achieving parity of resource, access and outcome for mental health in England'.


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  • Growth of the workforce
  • Number of people accessing services
  • Vacancies
  • Recruitment challenges
  • Number of GPs
  • Survey of mental health professionals
  • Mental health workforce commitments and actions needed