votingThe next government should prioritise making the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ a reality and ensure people with mental ill health can access to timely and appropriate support, according to a user-led mental health charity.

The National Survivor User Network (NSUN) made the call for these measures in its Members' Manifesto, which sets out what the next government should do based on what its members have said. The charity’s manifesto draws on feedback from NSUN’s AGM, held in January, the top 10 list of issues identified by members in its annual surveys of 2013 and 2014, and responses from members to a direct request asking what should be in the manifesto.

Mental health care accounts for only 13% of the NHS budget and, despite a growing need for services funding has been cut for 3 years in a row. There have been calls for the next government to increase funding for mental health services and promote ‘parity of esteem’ – the legal principle by which mental health is given equal priority to physical health.

Greater investment in mental health services is seen by NSUN as “vital” and is a theme that runs throughout its manifesto. Also, the charity believes that the commitment to ‘parity of esteem’ should not simply apply to the equal treatment of conditions but to people as well, which means paying attention to their views.

NSUN made 7 headline recommendations in its manifesto:

Make the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ a reality through effective and meaningful involvement in all aspects of our lives

Reform the Mental Health Act 2007 to make it fully compliant with human rights legislation and ensure that people with lived experience of mental distress are not harmed or abused by restrictive practice

Provide alternatives to medication, and reflect the social model of disability, in better person-centred support

Ensure access to timely and appropriate resources and support

Meet the needs of people with lived experience of mental distress from marginalised communities

Address the injustice and harm that have been caused by cuts to public funding and changes to the benefits system

Recognise and invest in research and training initiatives that are service user-controlled/user-led.

To read the manifesto in full, click here