The mayor has a statutory duty to address heath inequalities in London. In practice, this has been completely ignored in the last four years, especially in relation to inequalities related to mental health and access to mental health services. There is now a small public health budget within the GLA. I will ask my new London Health Commissioner to:
o Work with mental health charities to raise the profile of common conditions like depression and challenge the stigma that too many people still attach to mental illness.
More broadly as I said above, I want London to become a fairer city, with emphasis on shared values of tolerance and mutual respect. I will encourage Health and Wellbeing Boards and local Healthwatch organisations to make mental health a central priority.
If we really want to tackle mental health in our city then we must increase mental health awareness amongst the general public. I would be advocating that those with personal or family experience of mental health issues should take the opportunity provided by the establishment of local HealthWatch to champion mental health in their area. I also think that to increase mental health awareness we need to focus on the younger generation - after all, it will be their attitudes that will shape mental health in the future. It is also the case that half of those with mental health problems first experience symptoms by the age of 14. Therefore, as mayor I would make sure that all secondary schools had access to a toolkit aimed at educating their pupils on the detection, treatment and impact of mental health. I would also make sure that teachers across London are trained to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health in their pupils so that we can get people the right support as quickly as possible.
Furthermore, as a former national lead for the police service on disability and mental health issues I understand only too well the need to increase understanding of mental health in the workplace. I would therefore use my experience in this area to work with our city's largest companies in educating their staff on this important subject.
We intend to play a strong, strategic role in health to ensure that the Government's privatisation agenda doesn't threaten London's health services and that that the NHS is accountable to elected representatives and the public. We have pledged to develop a model equalities framework for GP consortia, providing resources and training for consortia to implement the framework in partnership with local health and wellbeing boards.
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