Introduction for integrating personal budgets for people with mental health problems

It is generally acknowledged that creating a joined-up, integrated experience of health and social care services is vital to achieve good outcomes for individuals. But structural integration is difficult to achieve.

This challenge becomes more important as our population ages, with many more of us expected to be living with long-term conditions of many types, including ongoing mental health problems. It is clear that effective management of these conditions requires increased coordination between professionals in different services and more involvement of the individual who needs care and support in the way they are supported.

Despite ongoing attempts at structural integration of services, organisations and initiatives, there remain huge challenges to achieving a system that can deliver care that is suitable for the future population. In many parts of the country, health and social care organisations are taking a different approach to integration, putting the individual in control of their wellbeing through integrated personal budgets.

This guide has been written for professionals charged with integrating personal budgets for adults of working age with mental health problems. It gives an overview of the terminology and policy background, puts forward some recommendations for implementing integrated personal budgets in mental health and it examines the key areas that need to be tackled for integration at the point of the individual to become a reality.

The guide is based on the following sources of knowledge:

SCIE was commissioned to produce this guide by the Department of Health (DH) as part of its overall policy of increasing the provision and take-up of personal budgets across health and social care, and more specifically in the mental health field.

The guide gives some examples of emerging practice from localities/areas where integration is being pushed forward through the adoption of integrated personal budgets. Examples are also given of approaches/projects that empower and enable people who use services and their families to engage with and get the best out of personal budgets.