Wales 180Mental health charities Gofal and the Mental Health Foundation have launched a manifesto for the Welsh National Assembly elections in May 2016.

‘Putting Mental Health on the Agenda’ was published ahead of the Welsh Liberal Democrats debate about mental health, which took place in the Senedd on October 7.

The manifesto has been developed by Gofal and the Mental Health Foundation and has the support of fellow charities Bipolar UK, Diverse Cymru and Samaritans Cymru. It focuses on six key areas and calls on all political parties to:

Support future generations by promoting good mental health and wellbeing from an early age and providing training and support in schools, colleges and universities

Improve access to psychological therapies in Wales

Reduce inequalities faced by people with mental health problems and for groups that are at higher risk of developing mental health problems

Tackle stigma and discrimination, especially in the workplace and in the health service

Improve mental health funding and outcomes for people with mental health problems

Take cross-government action to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Ewan Hilton, chief executive of Gofal, said: “All of the Assembly’s political parties have shown their support for improving mental health and wellbeing over the last five years, but it is essential that this continues following the elections in May.

“We know that people with mental health problems still face huge inequalities in terms of access to high quality healthcare, housing, education and employment opportunities. We support the current cross-cabinet commitment to improving mental health but we’re calling on political parties to ensure that all Ministers contribute to this agenda, should they form a government in 2016. In addition, we want person-centred outcomes to be measured and published so that we can see whether government spending and policy is delivering improvements to people’s lives.

“It is also crucial that we continue to tackle stigma and discrimination throughout the next Assembly term, as many people say it is worse than the illness itself. We believe a long-term campaign is crucial in order to deliver generational change and ensure that people with mental health problems no longer face stigma and discrimination in public services, workplaces and their communities.

Emily Wooster, head of Wales for the Mental Health Foundation added: “Mental health has become much more prominent in the last two Assembly terms, with cross-party support for the mental health strategy and new legislation which aims to improve access to mental health support in GP practices and in secondary mental health services.

“The next Welsh Government needs to build on progress made and commit to improving mental health from the outset of its administration – this includes support for the 10-20% of women who become unwell during and after pregnancy and building confidence and resilience among children and young people.

“With the cost of mental health problems in Wales estimated at £7.2 billion per year, we must build on important progress made and act early in the next Government to create a mentally healthier Wales.”