Over the weekend, Theresa May announced the Conservative’s mental health priorities for their election manifesto. UKCP is disappointed that the pledges contain no new money for mental health, and instead appear to have recycled a funding pledge that was announced over a year ago.
The priorities include protection against mental health discrimination at work, replacing the 1983 Mental Health Act, providing mental health first aid training to teachers and 10,000 staff to work in NHS mental health services.
Theresa May also promised mental health funding will increase by £1bn by 2020/21, however there is no indication that this is anything other than money that was pledged by David Cameron back in February 2016.
Janet Weisz, Chief Executive of UKCP said: ‘We need new money for mental health, not just recycled promises. We are pleased that Theresa May continues to talk about mental health, but unless it is backed by funding, people will continue to suffer. Only 16.8% of people experiencing common mental health issues get access to therapy, which shows no parity of mental and physical health.
‘UKCP are calling for £1.5bn extra funding for mental health services on top of that already announced, which could provide access to high quality therapy for 1 million extra adults and 500,000 extra children.
‘We are also calling for ring-fencing of the mental health budget, which will be vital to make sure that the pledges made by May can be achieved, particularly if funding is expected to be carved out of the current Health Department budget as has been suggested.’
UKCP does however agree that the 1983 Mental Health Act is flawed and finds it encouraging that May has promised to scrap it.
Since the announcement of the snap election there has been building pressure for parties to include improvements to the mental health services in their manifestos including a joint call from 20 of the leading mental health organisations, as part of the ‘We Need to Talk’ coalition.