Both the government and opposition have made announcements this week about mental health. The Liberal Democrats have pledged to place mental health at the forefront of their election campaign. At the same time, Andy Burnham, the Shadow Secretary of Health, has made mental health an integral part of his concept of ‘whole-person care.’ Are we beginning to see mental illness become a more prominent political issue?
Nick Clegg announced on Monday an initiative to reduce suicide deaths, building upon quality improvement programs already underway in Liverpool and other places. The Labour Party released the Report of an independent Mental Health Taskforce, commissioned by Ed Miliband. The Labour Party responded to the recommendations of the task force by stating that improving mental health for the public, and children in particular, will be a top priority if it forms the next government.
In recent months, a data-entity-substitution=”canonical” data-entity type=”node” data entity uuid=”acaf8bc6-40cc-994-8eae23da2638″>In recent months a data entity substitution=”canonical,” a>has generated significant policy activity and led to the introduction of dozens of specific measures, in recent months, as one of our twelve priorities for the new government. Mental health will only be a priority at the local level if it is communicated to the clinical commissioning group and other local authorities. The commissioners with whom I spoke said that the new mental health waiting time targets are being given a lot of importance. They also said that their colleagues feel under-equipped to meet these targets, especially since they must do so with existing budgets.
In order for political parties to live up to their promises to give mental health a higher priority, they will have to think about how to support local groups that are working to bring political ambitions into reality.