The NHS Confederation unites and advocates for the healthcare system in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its “Mental Health Network” represents organisations involved in promoting and commissioning mental health and learning disability services. The Confederation regularly hosts networking events to share good practices and innovations in the mental health sector. In April, they organised a dinner event featuring special guest Professor Anil Thapliyal, Executive Director of eMHIC. 


Sean Duggan OBE, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network, chaired the evening proceedings and summarised the event with the following statement: “We can get digital mental health right only by embracing international best practice and adapting it to suit our respective NHS region population mental health needs. It has to be evidence-informed and it must work for the people using it at the time and place of their choosing.”


The event brought together key stakeholders from the NHS, including leaders from Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), the former UK Minister of Health Sir Norman Lamb, mental health and primary healthcare professionals, and members of the healthtech industry. They convened to discuss service integration, achieving a coordinated healthcare system, and exploring digital solutions for mental healthcare challenges.


Anil Thapliyal emphasised eMHIC’s mission of international collaboration and knowledge-sharing in the digital mental health field, aiming for positive outcomes in all communities. He expressed satisfaction with the extensive collaboration already taking place across different levels of the NHS, stating, “This symphony is precisely what is required for a fully functioning digital mental health ecosystem to materialise. It is through the collective efforts of every individual and organisation that the true magic happens, ensuring a care system that effectively supports individuals in need of mental health support, as well as their families and carers.”


Alongside mental health, the NHS Confederation facilitates collaborations between trusts, voluntary organisations, independent providers, and other sectors such as housing. Their influential report, published last year, examined steps to achieve a more integrated and strategic approach to health, housing, and social care. This report resulted from discussions held in the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health and Housing Forum, where representatives from these sectors collaborated. The network also hosts forums for their members, which interested individuals can engage with by emailing the Mental Health Network.


The broader NHS Confederation fosters extensive connections throughout the entire healthcare system, promoting collaboration and the development of solutions to shared challenges. Notably, it offers opportunities for mental health members to connect with leaders in primary health care and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).


It is heartening to observe that the NHS Confederation shares eMHIC’s emphasis on the significance of connection and collaboration in addressing shared challenges in mental healthcare. Their commitment to providing opportunities for members to connect with leaders, as well as organising forums to foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the development of solutions to common healthcare challenges, is truly commendable.