Dozens of charities urge parties to back mental health policies blueprint

A call for all political parties to commit to improving the nation’s mental health has been backed by more than 60 charities.

The Manifesto for a Mentally Healthier Nation is a ten-year blueprint that urges politicians to commit to a number of pledges ahead of the next general election.

These include investing more in mental health services, tackling inequalities and reforming the benefits and justice systems.

The document said the “cost-of-living crisis, Covid-19 pandemic and austerity have worsened many people’s circumstances and services”, and given that “mental health is so strongly influenced by life conditions, we are facing higher rates of mental ill health”.

Among the manifesto’s so-called “prevention policies” are a new Child Poverty Act to “eradicate child poverty by 2030, implementing a minimum income guarantee, reforming sick pay legislation and increasing the number of homes available for social rent”.

It is also calling for cleaner energy and transport, improving access to green spaces and limiting access to junk food, smoking, alcohol and pollution.

A number of organisations including national charities Mind, Centre for Mental Health, the NSPCC, Rethink Mental Health and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are backing the campaign.

Andy Bell, chief executive at the Centre for Mental Health, said the actions set out in the manifesto “will improve quality of life in communities across the country”.

“We call on all political parties to commit to policies that will create better mental health, backed up by resources to continue to expand and reform mental health services,” he added.

Dr Sarah Hughes, chief executive of Mind, said: “More people than ever are either experiencing mental health problems or know and love someone with poor mental health.

“We are now seeing first-hand the devastating impact of what happens when mental health is not prioritised – from school and work absence rates, through to record numbers of people reaching crisis point and needing to go into hospital for their mental health, it’s clear that too many are struggling.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. With strong political leadership, proper investment and an ambitious vision, the nation’s mental health could be transformed.

“This is why it’s so vitally important that the UK’s political parties all put mental health at the top of their agendas ahead of the general election; and that the winning party commits to urgently publishing a cross-government plan for mental health.”

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, warned that a “failure to prioritise mental health in the next election will be felt for years to come, with a devastating impact on people’s lives”.

“Rethink Mental Illness’s research has shown that voters care about mental health and want to see it prioritised by all parties, with a clear action plan to improve the mental health of the nation,” he said.