How The 2017 General Election Could Affect Mental Health Provision
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll probably have noticed that there’s a little thing called the general election coming up. But, while everyone’s waxing lyrical about the economy and Trident, let’s not forget that each party has a very real impact on mental health policy in the UK. So, to help out, we’ve taken a look through the parties’ past and present manifestos to find out what they think about mental health...
The Tories have, in recent history, supported ‘austerity’, a system where public spending is limited so the UK can pay off its national debt (think spending less on food, or vital medicine, so you can pay off an optional credit card). However, Theresa May has pledged to ‘shake up’ mental health policy if she’s re-elected, promising to make sure mental health issues cannot be discriminated against in the workplace, introduce mental health workers in schools, and employ 10,000 more staff by 2020. This all sounds great, but seeing as Theresa May has had two opportunities to address these issues in the budget, and has previously chosen to cut NHS spending - which disproportionately affects mental health care -, hardly inspire confidence.
Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has been under immense scrutiny since day one, for his return to radical leftism and focus on increasing public spending. But what does that mean for your mental health? Well, in the past, Jeremy Corbyn has introduced (then abolished) a minister for mental health. His statement on Mental Health Day also indicated he would increase funding for mental health services aimed at under-18s, and in general he believes in increasing funding for the NHS, which would likely affect mental health services. But the big question is: how? Well, Corbyn will increase taxation to fund his public spending, saying he’ll tax one million more high earners at the top rate (45% in you earn over £80,000), and make businesses pay a little more, leading to an extra £4.5bn for the NHS.
The Liberal Democrats, led by Tim Farron, have yet to release a manifesto for their 2017 election campaign. However, based on their last manifesto, their attitude to mental health is largely positive. They want to establish a ‘world leading mental health research fund’, ensure that there are maximum waiting times for people seeking mental health treatment, and make sure employers promote ‘wellbeing’. We’ll have to wait and see what policies Tim Farron announces in the coming weeks, but they’re likely to be largely supportive of those with mental health issues, in word and action.
The Green Party may be largely known for its passion for the environment, but they also have a number of policies aimed at helping people with mental health issues as well. They want to ensure a maximum waiting time of 28 days for mental health treatment, offer a wider range of mental health therapies on the NHS, and improve the conditions of those who work with people with mental health issues. They also want to fight the stigma surrounding all mental health issues.
Scottish National Party
Scotland’s numero uno political party also has a pretty good track record when it comes to mental health, and since coming to power in 2015 they’ve increased spending by 40%. They are also ardent supporters of maximum waiting times for mental health treatment, and have consistently increased staff numbers to make sure everyone can get help fast. They even have the first (and, so far, only) dedicated Mental Health Minister in the UK, so they really take it seriously!
In the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections, Plaid Cyrmu made a number of mental health pledges, including: increasing spending and therapists to grant greater access, funding research into alternative therapeutic models of treatment, and supporting the ‘time to change’ initiative, tackling workplace discrimination on the grounds of mental health. Decent stuff.
Ukip may not be famous for much more than taking us out of the EU, but they also have some mental health policies. They want to keep the NHS free at the point of delivery, fight the stigma around mental health, and end ATOS work capability tests, meaning it would be easier to seek work discharge for mental health issues. But, only if you’re (what Ukip consider to be) British. So. Not that great.
So, there you have it. Seven political parties. Seven different views on mental health. The choice is yours!
- Words by Josh Pappenheim
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