Today marks the start of a big week. After a month of political party broadcasts, heated TV debates and desperate public appearances, the election is almost upon us. Yet even in this position, less than a week before we must make the informed, intelligent decision on 7th May, 40% of us are still unsure how we will vote.
I totally get it. Even after completing The Quiz, tuning into all of the debates and engaging in my fair share of politically charged discussions, I still can’t say that I am 100% certain about my vote. In fact, I struggle to see how anyone can be.
But for me, theres a game-changer. While I care about all the issues addressed the manifestos, its the party’s mental health policies that could potentially swing my vote.The fact that mental health is even addressed in the parties manifestos this time around (the first time, ever) is encouraging, maybe even hopeful, but who is actually saying what?
Below, I have copied each parties policies on mental health, so if you’re still undecided and the thought of voting in a few days is making you freak out, here’s what they’re all saying about mental health.
• Ensure there are therapists in every part of the country providing treatment for those who need it.
• We are increasing funding for mental health care.
• We will enforce the new access and waiting time standards for people experiencing mental ill-health, including children and young people.
• We will ensure that women have access to mental health support during and after pregnancy, while strengthening the health visiting programme for new mothers
• We will ensure proper provision of health and community-based places of safety for people suffering mental health crises
• We will review how best to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions back into work.
• People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work. If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether their benefits should be reduced.
• New support for mental health, benefiting thousands of people claiming out-of-work benefits or being supported by Fit for Work
• People will have the same right to psychological therapies as they currently have to drugs and medical treatments.
• NHS staff training will include mental health.
• Increase the proportion of the mental health budget that is spent on children, and make sure that teachers have training so they can identify problems early
• To support young people’s health and wellbeing, we will encourage the development of social and emotional skills
• Set out a strategy with the goal of ensuring that the great majority of patients can access talking therapies within 28 days, and that all children who need it can access school-based counselling.
• Overhaul the Work Capability Assessment
• Ensure there are no targets for sanctions in Jobcentre Plus
• Commission a new specialist Work Support programme, working with local authorities to give disabled people more support in employment.
• Continue to roll out access and waiting time standards
• Ensure no one in crisis is turned away, with new waiting time standards and better crisis care
• Radically transform mental health services, extending the use of personal budgets, integrating care more fully with the rest of the NHS, introducing rigorous inspection and high-quality standards, comprehensive collection of data
• Introduce care navigators so people get help finding their way around the system
• Develop a clear approach on preventing mental illness
• Support good practice among employers in promoting wellbeing
• Establish a world-leading mental health research fund
• Continue to support the Time to Change programme to tackle stigma against mental health
• Ensure all frontline public service professionals get better training in mental health
• Simplify and streamline back-to-work support for people with disabilities, mental or physical health problems.
• Raise awareness of, and seek to expand, Access to Work, which supports people with disabilities in work.
• Ensure that no one waits more than 28 days for access to talking therapies
• Ensure that everyone experiencing a mental health crisis, including children and young people, should have safe and speedy access to quality care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
• The use of police cells as ‘places of safety’ for children should be eliminated by 2016, and by the end of the next Parliament should only occur for adults in exceptional circumstances
• Ensure that everyone who requires a mental health bed should be able to access one in their local NHS Trust area, unless they need specialist care and treatment.
• Implement a campaign to end the discrimination and stigma associated with mental health through supporting the Time to Change programme
• Offering employment support to those with mental health problems.
• Pay special attention to any mental health issues of mothers during and after pregnancy, children and adolescents, Black and Minority Ethnic people, refugees, the LGBTIQ communities and ex-service people and their families.
• Give higher priority to the physical healthcare of those with mental health problems.
• Consider offering more personalised job-seeking support for people with mental health problems
• Plaid Cymru will increase access to talking therapies, as well as funding support for eating disorders, and drug and alcohol treatment.
• We will also increase resources for mental health services for young people in Wales
• We will encourage employers to provide adequate support for staff experiencing mental health difficulties.
• In order to help prisoners with mental health and drug or alcohol problems we will improve co-operation between the prison service and health and substance misuse services.
• We will help people who have the most difficulty finding work, including those with a disability and who have limited skills and qualifications, to find a suitable job.
• This will be achieved by dealing with people fairly and by focusing on what individuals can achieve on a day to day basis without the threat of sanctions.
Scottish National Party
• We’ve already committed £15 million to a mental health innovation fund and will seek to increase this investment to £100 million over the next 5 years.
• Resources will be directed towards projects that will improve mental health treatments
• The fund will also enable further investment in child and adolescent mental health services.
• Scotland was the first country in the UK to introduce waiting time targets for these services, and we have increased the workforce by 45 per cent.
• We will demand an urgent review of the conditionality and sanctions regime. The review will take particular account of the needs of people with mental health issues.
• Directing patients diagnosed with a debilitating long-term condition or terminal illnesses to mental health professionals when appropriate
• Recognising there is often a link between addiction and mental illness and offering appropriate treatment where this is the case
• Offering direct access to specialist mental health treatment for pregnant women and mothers of children under 12 months of age
• Fighting the stigma around mental illness and supporting those seeking to get back into work.
• Patients experiencing distress or exhibiting mental ill-health issues when admitted to hospital should have both their physical health and mental wellbeing assessed.
• We will end the postcode lottery for psychiatric liaison services in acute hospitals and A&E departments.
• To fund these initiatives, we will increase mental health funding by £170 million annually, phasing this in through the first two years of the next parliament.
• We will end unfair ATOS-style Work Capability Assessments and return assessments to GPs or appropriate specialist consultants.