National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health

We are delighted to introduce the work of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH).

National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health


Dr Lade Smith CBE, 

Current President of the RCPsych,

Former Clinical and Strategic

Director of the NCCMH 


Dr Lade Smith, CBE, former Clinical and Strategic Director of the NCCMH and 134th President of the RCPsych is delighted to introduce the work of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH), which is a collaboration between the Royal College of Psychiatrists and University College London.  

Over more than 20 years the NCCMH has forged an excellent reputation for developing evidence-based guidance, pathways, competence frameworks and quality improvement (QI) collaboratives. 

They are led by internationally renowned clinical leaders, and has well-established links and relationships with NHS England and Improvement, the National Institute for Health and Care Effectiveness (NICE), the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and mental health providers and service users across the UK. 

At the heart of all the NCCMH's work is a desire to improve mental health services for people and to ensure equitable access. Therefore people with lived experience of mental health problems are a central part of every stage of their processes, as are clinical leaders and front line staff. This means that the work is grounded in the reality of the people who use and provide mental health services and is underpinned by a drive to address health inequality.  

The NCCMH works from the evidence base up. They developed NICE guidelines for 15 years and now are involved in the implementation of high-quality evidence. 

Professor Steve Pilling, Academic and Strategic Director

In March 2022 the Public Mental Health Implementation Centre, which is hosted by the NCCMH, was launched in the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. This marks an exciting new chapter for the NCCMH and the College.

The NCCMH are proud to work with a wide range of partners to improve mental health care nationally and internationally and look forward to working with you. 

Professor Tim Kendall, International Clinical and Strategic Director

Professor Russell Razzaque, Clinical and Strategic Director

How we work

Co-production and equality

At the heart of everything we do

In the NCCMH, all our work is underpinned by our commitment to co-production (working collaboratively with people, without hierarchy) and reducing inequalities in mental health care. 

We work with people with lived experience as equal partners when designing and delivering our work, often as early as the bidding process for commissioned work, to ensure the work we propose is co-produced and advances mental health equality. In addition to our own work being co-produced and ensuring there is a focus on equality, we support others to involve people with lived experience and identify disparities around equality in their own work and how to address this, whether that’s in a resource, standards, or through quality improvement support.

To ensure we have a wide range of experiences and views, we have an NCCMH Equality Advisory Group (EAG), a standing committee of people from a diverse range of backgrounds with lived and learned experiences of mental health services in the UK. The EAG supports the NCCMH to adhere to its commitment to actively advance co-production and equality. The group meets regularly to discuss NCCMH projects from a co-production and equalities perspective, often as a critical friend, to advance our work and ensure it results in improvement for as many people as possible in accessing mental healthcare, their experience of the support they receive and their outcomes.


Service design and development

Guidance and care pathways

Our approach to designing and developing new services

At the NCCMH, we are committed to encouraging positive changes to mental health service design. We have a tried and tested approach to new service design and development to support health care leaders in service development. 

Our freely-available resources include a service design report for young adults services, commissioning guidance for equality in mental health care services and commissioning guidance for co-production

Case study - Community Mental Health Framework

The NCCMH developed the Community Mental Health Framework for NHS England in 2019. It aims to enable the Long Term Plan’s ambition for new and integrated models of primary and community mental health care, which will support adults and older adults with mental health problems, to be achieved.

Since then, the Framework has been implemented across the country, driving the largest national change to community mental health provision in 30 years.

The Framework set out a new structure for place-based community mental health care, which can provide whole-person and whole-population health approaches. At the heart of the Framework is a  ‘core’ community mental health service, combining primary care provision with secondary care community mental health teams and residential care. That core is built around existing GP practices, neighbourhoods and community hubs. Implementation of the Framework means that people with mental health problems would be able to:

The Framework laid the foundation for NHS England’s Community Mental Health Transformation, which is now fully underway, with the aim of enabling at least 370,000 adults and older adults per year nationally to have greater choice and control over their care, and to live well in their communities.

Framework and pathways

We have produced a wide range of speciality-specific frameworks and care pathways in the UK and abroad. These pathways are based on the latest evidence base, are co-produced with patients, families and carers and have the expert input of our faculties. Click the links below to find out more about our frameworks and pathways:

Adult eating disorders servicesThe Community Mental Health Framework Dementia careEarly intervention in psychosis servicesEating disorders services for children and young peopleEmergency mental health care (liaison) servicesImproving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services Perinatal services

Urgent/ intensive children and young people services


Example care pathway infographic created by the NCCMH ↑


Quality improvement (QI) programmes

QI methodology in mental health programmes

The NCCMH has developed deep specialism in designing, delivering and evaluating programmes that use QI methodology. 

We are proud to showcase an extensive portfolio of high-impact programmes we have delivered across a broad range of mental health services. Areas of focus include staff wellbeing, suicide prevention and reducing restrictive practice. Please see some examples on the right.

Throughout 2021/22 we worked with 38 teams in England and Wales to understand and improve the experience, wellbeing and joy of staff in the Enjoying Work Collaborative. Each week, the teams completed a survey that asked their members three questions based on their experience of work in the past week. The results showed an improvement across the three outcome measures. 

Key results from the Enjoying Work Collaborative are:


a 51% improvement in the percentage of people who have enjoyed being at work frequently


a 41% improvement in the percentage of people who are experiencing no symptoms of burnout 


a 42% improvement in the percentage of people who are extremely likely to recommend their team as a place to work

Our latest QI collaborative is focused on demand, capacity and flow within inpatient mental health settings and was launched in January 2023. This 18-month project aims to:

In 2018, the NCCMH supported 38 inpatient mental health wards across England to reduce their use of restrictive practice using a QI approach.

In 2021, NHS England commissioned the scale up and spread of the reducing restrictive practice (RRP) pilot as part of the Mental Health Safety Improvement Programme (MH-SIP). 

The scale-up aims to take the learning from the pilot, including the main areas pilot teams focused on to reduce restrictive practices and ideas tested, to assist teams as they start working on their own projects. 

RRP: Our impact

Since its inception in 2018, participating wards have had numerous success stories.

Wards have been testing over 350 change ideas since the Reducing Restrictive Practice Collaborative started and by February 2020 those ideas resulted in 24 out of 38 wards seeing reductions ranging from 25% to 100% in one or more measure of restrictive practice (number of physical restraints, seclusions and rapid tranquillisation episodes).

Over 18 months, there has been a 15% reduction in the overall use of restrictive practices among the 38 wards participating in the Reducing Restrictive Practice Collaborative.


Public Mental Health Implementation Centre

Why is there a need for the Public Mental Health Implementation Centre? 

Mental disorder accounts for at least a fifth of UK disease burden due to a combination of high prevalence, early onset, and a broad range of associated impacts and inequalities.

Effective interventions exist to treat mental disorders, mitigate associated impacts, prevent mental disorders from arising, and promote wellbeing and resilience. 

However, in the UK, only a minority of those with a mental disorder except psychosis receive treatment and far fewer receive interventions to prevent associated impacts. 

Furthermore, there is negligible provision of interventions to prevent mental disorder or promote mental wellbeing and resilience. 

The public mental health implementation gap results in population-scale preventable suffering, broad impacts and associated economic costs. The gap also breaches the right to health, reflects lack of parity and has further widened with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Public Mental Health Implementation Centre (PMHIC) aims to support improved implementation of evidence-based interventions to treat mental disorder, prevent mental disorders and associated impacts, and promote mental wellbeing and resilience. This will result in the sustainable and equitable reduction of the impacts of mental disorder and promotion of population mental wellbeing locally, nationally and internationally.

“The aim of the centre is to support improved implementation of evidence-based interventions to treat mental disorders, prevent associated impacts, prevent mental disorders, and promote mental wellbeing and resilience.”

 - Prof. Steve Pilling, Academic and Strategic Director

How the PMHIC works with partners

Reports and Publications 

Since the centre was launched in 2022 we have published a set of publications focused on public mental health. Find out more below: 

PMHIC launch. Westminster, 2022

Clinical guideline development


We routinely develop clinical guidelines in the UK & abroad


Since the NCCMH was established in 2001, we have been at the forefront of reviewing evidence and developing gold standard guidelines for mental health. 

The NCCMH developed 36 mental health guidelines for NICE that have been translated and adopted/adapted by other public healthcare systems, including in Italy, Australia and Slovenia.

The mental health guidelines were developed from the best research evidence, using predetermined and systematic methods to identify and evaluate the evidence. If there wasn’t enough evidence, consensus statements from the guideline committee were used to form statements and recommendations. These guidelines continue to be referred to by professionals and people using services around the world. Notable guidelines are: 

Our guidelines have led to some important developments in the field of mental health. They have provided the evidence base that has supported:

Recognition of our guidelines


Our guideline on schizophrenia has been twice recognised by the World Health Organisation as being the best of any internationally available guideline on that topic.



Bespoke mental health guidelines for international partners

In the past, the NCCMH has provided consultancy to Turkey, Georgia, South Korea and the Netherlands to develop their own clinical guideline programmes, based on the NICE mental health guidelines we developed.

Our approach is to utilise the latest evidence base and learning from the UK, and then work with local experts to tailor the guidance to the specific cultural and economic context our partners and clients are working in. 

More recently, we contributed to a project in Lviv in Ukraine to develop a compendium of recommendations on common mental health problems (depression and anxiety disorders) and on severe mental disorders (psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). These synopses of NICE recommendations were specifically adapted for the Ukrainian context.




Our high-impact research 

We are regularly commissioned to carry out and publish research into mental health programmes leading to improvement in culture, service configurations and patient care. 

Our reports contain recommendations and practical help for mental health services by describing the culture and initiatives of services that lead by example in how they work and what they do.

Systematic reviews 

We have published a range of rapid systematic reviews encapsulating all available evidence on a particular topic.  


We carry out evaluations of mental health services and interventions:


We write reports on specific areas of mental health care, commissioned by other organisations.  

Competence frameworks

A well-established approach to developing competence frameworks 

The NCCMH has collaborated with experts in their fields to develop competence frameworks for staff working in mental health care. 

The competence frameworks identify the skills, attitudes, values and knowledge needed by professionals in particular roles. They have been developed in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders including clinicians, academics, commissioners, service users, families and carers. They are often accompanied by a supporting document (containing background, discussion and evidence) and a training curriculum.

Find out more about each competence framework and download the documents from the links below: 

Find out how to commission us here

Thank you for reading.

National Collaborating Centre For Mental Health

Our team would love to speak to you about what we do.