The Labour Party has made several commitments in its manifesto to improve mental health services, if the party were to win the upcoming general election.
Commitments laid out in the manifesto include continuing the coalition government’s aim of achieving parity of esteem for mental and physical health services. This will be alongside integration of physical, mental and social care services into a single system ‘built around the individual’.
Also under a Labour government, people would have the same right to psychological therapies as they currently have to drugs and medical treatments.
Other commitments in the manifesto include:
• To help address the problem of undiagnosed mental illness, NHS staff training will include mental health
• To increase the proportion of the mental health budget that is spent on children
• Make sure that teachers have training so they can identify problems early and link children up with support
• To support young people’s health and wellbeing by encouraging the development of social and emotional skills, for example, through the use of mindfulness to build resilience
• Setting out a strategy with the goal of ensuring that the great majority of patients can access talking therapies within 28 days, and that all children who need it can access school-based counselling.
The other parties will launch their manifestos in the next 7 to 10 days.
Some commitments have already been announced, such as the Liberal Democrats saying they would spend £3.5 billion more on mental health care in England over the next parliament, if they were elected.
No dementia focus
However, Labour’s manifesto has been criticised by dementia research charity Alzheimer’s Research UK for its lack of focus on dementia.
“A pledge to prioritise the nation’s health is welcome, but it’s disappointing that this manifesto does not mention plans to tackle dementia, a condition which touches millions of lives in the UK,” said Matthew Norton from Alzheimer’s Research UK. “Alzheimer’s Research UK urges all party leaders to make a promise on dementia that includes funding for research. With dementia as our greatest health challenge, action on the condition is a clear duty that comes with the keys to Number 10.
“Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have an enormous impact, shattering the lives of individuals and families and placing a crippling burden on our economy at a cost of £24 billion a year. Unless action is taken now the cost of dementia will reach £29 billion by the 2020 general election, yet research has the power to transform people’s lives. If we are to meet the G7’s commitment to find a disease-modifying treatment by 2025, it will take determined action from all quarters, and our next Prime Minister must be at the forefront.”