12:28PM, Friday 24 July 2020
Mental health and promoting wellbeing must be a priority as we confront coronavirus. The pandemic and social distancing measures have had a profound effect on the nation’s mental health.
While most of us will emerge without lasting negative effects, some people living with existing mental health problems, whose access to services has been interrupted, are at far greater risk of worsening mental health.
A survey recently conducted by mental health charity Mind found that many more people are experiencing mental health problems for the first time. The Royal College of Psychiatrists also reported a 43 per cent increase in urgent and emergency appointments for mental health services following the lockdown.
With urgent cases rising alongside a fall in routine care, I am concerned that already stretched mental health services will struggle to cope with growing demand for treatment. I believe the Government must ensure that mental health services have the resources they need.
Supporting young people’s mental health is also crucial, particularly through prevention and early intervention. I will press the Government to increase funding allocated to child and adolescent mental health services and ring-fence funding to ensure money reaches the frontline.
Without the much-needed investment, I am concerned that services will continue to be a postcode lottery and many children will continue to go without vital mental health support they need.
It's also time to recognise that the Mental Health Act is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.
The Government has promised legislation to amend the Act to ensure that people subject to it receive better care and have a much greater say in that care.
The independent review of the Mental Health Act published its final report and recommendations in December 2018. I believe the Government should implement the recommendations in full so that people are given choice, autonomy and the treatment they need.
Beyond the pandemic, I will press the Government to focus its efforts on improving mental health services and achieving full parity of esteem between physical and mental health.
Ministers must also ensure that those who are most at risk have the support they need to recover from this crisis by closing the gaps in our social security system.