Greener Mental Health- Mental health professionals support low carbon, high quality services

Wednesday, 31 March, 2010

A one-day national summit ‘Mental health services 2020- High quality, low carbon’ was jointly organised by the Campaign for Greener Health Care and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Participants included mental health professionals from the NHS, Department of health, Royal college members, academia and the third sector.

Why mental health?

Mental health services have always been very open to transformational ways of delivering services and have been inspirational organisations in the NHS. Climate change and its consequences will have significant mental health implications and there is a tremendous opportunity to transform mental health services and ensure low carbon services while ensuring high quality of care. The reduction of 80% of carbon emissions of the 1990 baseline by 2050 needs transformational change as just efficiency is not sufficient.

The Summit

Speakers included David Pencheon, Director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, John Geddes, Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Jo Nurse, National lead for public mental health, Department of health, Frances Mortimer, Medical Director, Campaign for Greener Healthcare, Lee Smith from Mind, Emily Holmes & Michael Browning, University Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford. The immense opportunity to transform mental health services and balance the duty of care with quality of care, cost of care, and sustainability of care was recognised.

What should be the aims of a sustainable service?

At the summit, the high-level group of mental health professionals agreed to support the transformation of mental health services into high quality sustainable, low carbon care systems. It was agreed that the aim of a sustainable mental health service should be: • Primary prevention-Improve the mental health and wellbeing of the population • For those with mental illness-Delivery of high quality health care for people with mental illness for least possible resources It is important to ensure better resource use such as financial and human resources (including intellectual capital) and in particular, resources that are likely to be in short supply.

New developments

Some of the current developments and research in mental health were discussed. These have implications for reducing the carbon footprint while ensuring high quality of services. New developments included: True colours version 2: SMS based weekly mood monitoring for weekly assessment and early intervention allowing rapid personalised care. Cognitive vaccines: Early stage research has been positive for the use of Tetris for PTSD and cognitive training strategies for depression. Ecotherapy/Ecominds: Promotion of work and experiences in outdoor environments to benefit health and well-being.


Participants were asked to identify actions that will help transform mental health services compatible with the green agenda. Some of the key recommendations included:

• Developing a Mental health charter that will be unveiled at the International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Edinburgh.

• Encouraging mental health organisations to sign up to the 10:10 climate change campaign.

• Strong support and ‘seed funding’ for research necessary to create environmentally sustainable mental health services.

• Education and training of health professionals.

• Cascading the developments in sustainable mental health and creating a social movement to ensure ‘viral spread’ of the green message.

These actions identified will be used in the development of a work-plan for transformation to high quality low carbon mental health services. Key points of the future of mental health services were described as being radical, rethink of current ways of working, creating patient powered ecosystems and embracing innovation.