Bringing together physical and mental health: A new frontier for integrated care

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Part of Integrating physical and mental health

Until now, most efforts to promote integrated care have focused on bridging the gaps between health and social care or between primary and secondary care. But the NHS five year forward view has highlighted a third dimension – bringing together physical and mental health.

This report makes a compelling case for this ‘new frontier’ for integration. It gives service users’ perspectives on what integrated care would look like and highlights 10 areas that offer some of the biggest opportunities for improving quality and controlling costs.

Key findings

Efforts to develop integrated care should focus more on the integration of physical and mental health, addressing in particular four major challenges:

  • high rates of mental health conditions among people with long-term physical health problems
  • poor management of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’, which lack an identifiable organic cause
  • reduced life expectancy among people with the most severe forms of mental illness, largely attributable to poor physical health
  • limited support for the wider psychological aspects of physical health and illness.

Failure to address these issues increases the cost of providing services – the first two alone cost the NHS in England more than £11 billion a year – and affects outcomes for patients. There is much that can be achieved within existing structures to bring together mental and physical care at the clinical level. But this needs to be supported by wider changes such as development and evaluation of new service models, changes to professional education and increased use of new payment systems and contracting models.

Policy implications

  • NHS England should support and encourage vanguard sites and other areas to develop integrated approaches towards physical and mental health as part of efforts to build new models of care.
  • All health and care professionals have a part to play in taking a ‘whole person’ approach towards physical and mental health. Integrated service models can support this by creating opportunities for skills transfer between professionals.
  • Royal colleges and other bodies should continue working together to redesign curriculums so that all health professionals have a common foundation in mental as well as physical health.
  • Local authorities should assess how mental health and wellbeing interacts with other public health priorities and include this in joint strategic needs assessments.
  • Commissioners should take advantage of new payment systems and contracting approaches to overcome some of the current barriers to integration.
  • Mental health trusts should consider having a board-level champion for physical health, and vice versa in acute trusts.


Clive Spindley

my own business,
my own business
Comment date
09 October 2016
integartion of care, mental and physical, NHS and non NHS will not 'appen unless it is backed up by the integartion of data supported by a data model designed at the national level

Graham Morgan

Evolve:A Social Impact Company
Comment date
10 October 2016
At Evolve we are pioneering an innovative, preventative intervention, Project HERO (Health Engagement Real Outcomes).
Delivered by inspiring Evolve Health Mentors HERO simultaneously provides physical health, emotional wellbeing and school progress gains.

Independent studies give testimony to the positive outcomes the HERO programme delivers. Our challenge is support with national roll out.



Comment date
08 March 2017
Sine the 1980's the UK has had an epidemic of Lyme Disease. Many of us dispite a positive test have been put in
Psychiatric hospitals. Trying to convince use our symptoms are psychosomatic. We need long term IV antibiotics. However due largely to the UK government following American protocol.
A condition which can impersonate over 300 conditions is being given the wrong treatment and diagnoses.
American insurance companies refused treatment beyond a few months while in the U.K. It was beyond 2 weeks. The DOH has been forced into of all things recognising CE approved tests. Which it should of done all a long.
NICE are publishing new guidelines in 2018.
Still we can't get treatment unless we pay privately.

NICE guidelines say we have 2 to 3000 while John Caudwell say we have 45,000 per year
The only help most of us can get is a psychiatrist.
I have septic legs and heart block.

Shapna Begum

Student on Health and social care,
Metropolitan University
Comment date
24 October 2019

Bringing together physical and mental health

Having integrated care provision of health and care services will allow and ensure that various needs of patients will be met and appropriately cared for.

Professionals working together will develop and focus more with support to help the individual. Rather than leaving them to deal with the issues themselves. It can be very worrying for parents or family members dealing with physical and mental health problems if the support is not received.

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