Rethink Mental Illness has established a Community Mental Health Unit to transform community mental health care. We believe this is not a task for the NHS alone, but for communities and those working in them to come together and collaborate far more closely.

Building communities that care

Over the past two years, Rethink Mental Illness has been supporting Open Mental Health in Somerset, working in partnership with local VCSE, NHS, and local authority partners to transform Somerset Community Mental Health services, proving the concept and embedding co-production, alliance development, and service delivery.

In response to the NHS England/Improvement Community Mental Health Framework, Rethink Mental Illness published ‘Communities that Care’ setting out what we see as the six pillars of community care: clinical, social connectedness, physical health, housing, finances and employment and volunteering. Based on our experience from Somerset, we produced two ‘Thinking Differently’ guides for STPs/ICSs, setting out the steps that place-based teams need to take to start transforming their community mental health.

We established the Community Mental Health Unit to be a laboratory for the best approaches to do this and to influence the best possible adoption of the Framework. We have secured a £3m grant to work with NHS and VCSE partners to deliver four new alliances around England and we continue to look for new partners.

Our Community Mental Health Team can:

  • Support you to understand what is going on in your area to ensure optimal transformation.
  • Work alongside you to undertake strategic and co-produced work to support your implementation of the CMHF.
  • Demonstrate practically what we know works and work alongside you to find what will have the most impact in your area.
  • Design co-produced outcomes measurement to make sure that changes and improvements are sustained and lead to long-term improvements for everyone using your services.
  • Support local VCSE alliance formation, development and continued partnership working.

Hear about our success in Somerset

Listen in to this NHS England and NHS Improvement podcast about Somerset ICS’s journey to substantially improve mental health services through NHS, local authority and VCSE partnership. 

Listen on Soundcloud

Contact our team

To find out how our Community Mental Health Unit can help your organisation, please email us at

Meet our team

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