Designing better mental health services

The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCP-MH) has published the first four guides in volume 2 of its commissioning framework. Each provides a description of what a good service configuration looks like and brings together scientific evidence, service user and carer experience and case studies of best practice.

These new guides cover primary mental health care, liaison mental health services (acute hospitals), dementia care and services for young people. They can be downloaded free of charge.

Dr John Hanna, director of the policy unit of the Society's Division of Clinical Psychology, says:

"These descriptors represent the first of several collaborative efforts with partner organisations guiding commissioners on ‘what good looks like’ in mental health. This, we hope, is the beginning of an ongoing cross-professional collaboration in defining good quality services designed to deliver effective, evidence-based care which is more broadly balanced and accessible - especially in terms of psychological interventions - than service models past.

"The Society has put forward expertise into every one of the expert reference groups formed thus far, and while these may not be the service descriptors we would have written on our own, our influence has had a significant impact on the content and shape of these descriptors as well as those to follow.”

Launched in April 2011, the JCP-MH works with the Royal College of General Practitioners and its Centre for Commissioning. It is made up of leading organisations in the field who are aiming to inform high-quality mental health and learning disability commissioning in England. Its members include the British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Department of Health and mental health charities and service-user groups.


  • publishes briefings on the key values for effective mental health commissioning;
  • provides practical guidance and a framework for mental health commissioning;
  • supports commissioners in commissioning mental health care that delivers the best possible outcomes for health and well being;
  • develops guidance for best practice commissioning where disparities in outcomes exist;
  • brings together service users, carers, clinicians, commissioners, managers and others to deliver the best possible commissioning for mental health and wellbeing.

Later this year the JCP-MH will be publishing further guides on key aspects of service provision, public mental health, economic sustainability and values-based commissioning.

Volume 1 of the commissioning framework In ‘Practical Mental Health Commissioning: Volume 1 Setting the Scene was published in April 2011. Written for clinical commissioning groups and local authorities, as well as Primary Care Trusts in transition, this provides a clear framework for what mental health commissioning looks like now, how it may work under the NHS reforms and identifies the opportunities to provide care in the future

In 2013 JCP-MH will publish a ‘mental health and wellbeing commissioning pack’ in collaboration with the Strategic Health Authority Mental Health Leads’ Group. 

This will represent volume 3 of the JCP-MH’s commissioning framework, and will provide tools for needs assessment, contract inserts, cost-benefit calculators and other tools.