Labour and Mental Health (2)

Mental health will be a key priority of the next Labour Government, and I am proud that it was Labour who in this Parliament won the vote to introduce ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health into law.

It is critical that people in crisis get the help and support they need regardless of where they turn to for help, whether it’s health services, the police, social care or community organisations. I am delighted that local organisations in Hitchin & Harpenden have come together to sign their own declaration on the action they will take to achieve this and I will support this work in any way that I can.

This is especially important now as mental health services are under increasing pressure. Under the Tory-led Government, the mental health budget has fallen for the first time in a decade. Mental health wards are running over capacity and there are hundreds fewer mental health doctors and thousands fewer mental health nurses. Children and young people’s mental health services have been stripped back too, at the same time as £3 billion has been wasted on a damaging NHS reorganisation, and this has led to more young people being placed on adult wards, and many sent hundreds of miles from home as a result of bed shortages.

Labour will work to reverse the damage caused by this Government’s failure and false economies on mental health, putting prevention and early intervention at the heart of our approach. We will ensure the training of doctors, nurses and all professional staff in the NHS includes mental health, so that frontline staff can spot problems and link people up with the right support, and we will ensure that mental health is included in teacher training too.

Labour will create a new right to talking therapies in the NHS Constitution – just as people currently have a right to drugs and medical treatments. We will focus on speeding up access to talking therapies, working towards the goal that vast majority of people who need support are seen with 28 days. And we will work to ensure health and care services are integrated, with mental health at the heart of the future NHS.