Prioritising Mental Health at the General Election

Get a free consultation

Health Assured team

18 June 2024

We are faced with a public mental health emergency that is devastating the lives of thousands of people, while psychiatrists and mental health services are over-stretched and under-resourced amidst the ongoing impacts of the cost-of-living crisis, wars and displacements, the climate and ecological crisis, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Simply put, significantly more people require mental healthcare in the UK than the number receiving it - at least 1.2 million people are on NHS waiting lists for community mental healthcare.

Pressures caused by increases in the cost of living are a threat to good mental health and must be addressed. Of the more than 2.5 million adults currently out of work across the UK due to long-term sickness, 1.35 million are experiencing mental ill-health.

A survey by Rethink Mental Illness found that 4 in 10 people say mental health will be important in shaping their decision on which party to vote for at the next election. Two-thirds of the public say they worry about the mental health of friends and family. It is clear mental health is front of mind for so many people, therefore it is vital that all parties take it seriously this election year. 

Creating the conditions for better mental health

The 2024 General Election is an opportunity to create the conditions for everyone to experience better mental health across the UK. Already we have seen promising signs that politics is responding to the mental health crisis.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce dedicated mental health professionals in every primary school in their manifestos. The Conservatives have pledged to expand coverage of Mental Health Support Teams from 50% to 100% of schools and colleges in England by 2030.

Significant announcements on NHS funding, childcare, and flexible working have also been raised across the political spectrum, helping to alleviate the pressures on our collective mental health. Whether these policies are delivered effectively is another matter, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Can the next General Election bring real change?

Labour, led by Sir Keir Starmer, has outlined a vision for significant reforms in mental health care. These reforms aim to increase funding and improve the accessibility and quality of services, reflecting a proactive approach to addressing the heightened demand post-pandemic.

In contrast, the Conservative Party's recent record shows a more complex picture regarding mental health spending. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, there has been an inconsistency in the allocation of funds across different regions. Despite pledges to boost mental health funding, actual spending per person on mental health services has not consistently met rising demands.

An NHS Confederation report underscores a genuine concern: mental health is barely acknowledged in the current government's agenda, suggesting a gap between commitments made and actions taken. This gap raises questions about the effectiveness of the government's strategy to genuinely elevate mental health care in the public health hierarchy.

To improve the mental health of the UK population, the next government must:

  • Increase investment in mental health support structures for new parents and babies. 
  • Protect children’s mental health, including making sure schools are mentally healthy and free of bullying. 
  • Tackle poverty by helping people to move into good jobs with decent pay and conditions, and make sure a safety net is in place for those who can't work.
  • Work to tackle racism, homophobia, and all other forms of discrimination. 
  • Ensure increased access to nature and engagement in physical activity. 
  • Protect people from harmful junk food, smoking, alcohol misuse, online harm, and gambling. 
  • Develop a comprehensive, cross-government plan to prevent mental health problems, alongside the funding to make it happen. 

In the run-up to the General Election 2024, Health Assured has organised a panel discussion inviting industry experts, clinicians, and journalists to Manchester to talk about how we can prioritise mental health in the current political landscape.

The panel discussed a range of important issues such as the need for greater investment in workplace wellbeing, and how the main political parties aim to tackle the growing mental health crisis in the UK.

Make your enquiry

Please complete the form below and we'll be in touch to answer your enquiry

Book a place on this workshop

Get a free consultation

Please complete the form and we'll be in touch to schedule your free consultation

An error occurred

We appologise but an error has occurred submitting your form. Please try again.

Mindful Employer
Stonewall Diversity Champion
Disability Confident Employer
bacp Accredited Service
International EAP Association
National Suicide Prevention Alliance
The Workplace Wellbeing Charter
Mental Health at Work
Cyber Essentials Plus
Investors in People Silver 2022
Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse
The Prince's Responsible Business Network
SEQOHS Accredited
helplines partnership