This Mental Health Week (9 to 15 May) Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley is once again calling on the government to urgently get a grip of the mental health crisis and invest in services.
In yesterday’s Queens Speech, which sets the government’s agenda for the coming year, the only mention of mental health was to publish draft legislation to reform the Mental Health Act, with no timescale of what this would be done.
Since the pandemic we know that mental health services have been inundated with people who need support. The government’s own figures show that before the pandemic, 1 in 9 young people needed support with their mental health – this has now risen to 1 in 6 young people. And Age UK estimate that more than 2 million people over the age of 50 will need support with their mental health by 2026.
Our mental health services are on the brink of collapse after decades of decline at the hands of successive Tory government’s. A quarter of mental health beds have been cut and more than a third of young people are turned away from mental health services last year alone. It’s appalling that 1.6 million people are currently waiting for mental health treatment.
I’m contacted daily by people who have tried every single avenue to try and get help with their mental health and are having to turn to their MP for support. I was contacted by one person who sat in A&E for hours, only to be told to go home, take sleeping tablets and have a hot bath.
The pandemic has had a profound effect on us all and none more so than our young people, and those on lower incomes, and with the cost-of-living crisis this is only going to get worse.
Labour has a plan and would guarantee mental health treatment within a month for all who need it and place specialist mental health support in every school. This would result in more than a million more people receiving much needed support every year.
The government must intervene now and provide mental health charities and public health with investment and resources they need to ensure that they can adequately support people with their mental health. If they don’t, they are in danger of failing a whole generation.