Tackling the Mental Health Crisis – a National Strategy for Mental Health

Mental Health

Socialist Health Association’s motion to the Young Labour Policy Conference:

Young Labour notes:

  1. Self harm and suicide have continued to rise in the last 20 years, and for young people in the U.K. rates are now among the highest in Europe, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
  2. NHS Providers reported in July that demand for Child and Adolescent Mental Health services rose 44% from 2013 to 2016, far outstripping growth in demand for physical healthcare.
  3. Acute mental health crises are manifestations of emotional distress, and can be seen as a symptom of a often complex mix of difficult personal circumstances, past traumas and social and economic deprivation. It is associated with long term mental health problems and drug and alcohol abuse.
  4. There are higher rates of self harm among prisoners, asylum seekers, veterans from the armed forces, people bereaved by suicide, some cultural minority groups and the LGBT community.

Young Labour believes:

  1. The social context of self harm and suicide demands a cross-sectoral approach, in the form of community based mental wellbeing collaboratives, linking health providers with other stakeholders including councils, youth work teams, schools and colleges, ambulance services and police. Minimum standards of timeliness and quality of care should be guaranteed by a new National Service Framework for Mental Health.
  2. For young people this means focusing on:
    1. timely access to evidence-based care;
    2. targeted interventions on drug and alcohol use;
    3. anti-stigma campaigns; and, most importantly,
    4. addressing systemic causes of social exclusion.
  3. Erosion in funding for primary and secondary mental health care must be reversed, with the aim of achieving parity of funding. (That is not to say that funding should be mathematically equal to funding for physical health, but that the level of funding should be determined systematically according to need.)
  4. A National Strategy for Mental Health should be created to improve the resilience of communities across the board and should include but by no means be limited to:
    1. improving the capacity of schools to offer help and support for those struggling;
    2. restoring universities as places of learning rather than competition;
    3. providing funded apprenticeships and pathways to meaningful and secure jobs;
    4. providing access to secure, good quality and affordable housing;
    5. improving funding to mental health care so that more holistic care can be provided in emergency settings; and
    6. offering mental health training to all those in key roles such as teachers, police, job centre staff, councillors, and allied healthcare professionals so they can respond sensitively and appropriately to crisis.