What’s a general election got to do with Wales’ mental health?

The UK is going to the polls in a general election on 12 December and political parties are busy campaigning across the nations, to win votes with their vision for our public services. The NHS is always a hot topic in election campaigns, but the funding and delivery of NHS services in Wales is mostly devolved to the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay.

Rhiannon Hedge, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer for Mind Cymru, explains what the next general election has to do with mental health in Wales.

If mental health is a priority for you when deciding who to vote for, it might seem like a general election won’t have a big impact on those of us in Wales who need support for a mental health problem. However, the reality is that many decisions MPs take can make a big difference to our lives - for better or worse.

The UK Parliament in Westminster holds powers across England and Wales on areas such as welfare and benefits, employment rights and protections, and laws including elements of the Mental Health Act.

We hear from people in Wales being impacted by unfair benefits sanctions, denied dignity and respect while being sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and falling out of work because the Equality Act isn’t adequately protecting people with mental health problems from discrimination. The UK Government has the power to tackle all of these injustices in our communities, so it’s vital that people in Wales use their voice in this election and join our campaign.

Our manifesto for Wales calls for action in three areas that will directly benefit people in Wales facing a mental health problem. We want whoever forms the next UK government to:


1. Make the benefits system work for people with mental health problems
2. Modernise the Mental Health Act
3. Promote and protect mental health at work

In the last two UK General Elections, every major political party pledged to take action on mental health.

Despite these promises, the UK’s mental health has been stuck on pause for too long. It’s time for the next UK government to press play.

Whilst there has been a growing conversation on mental health, not enough has changed for those of us trying to get support - putting lives at risk. As the party manifestos are published in the coming weeks, we’ll be scrutinising them closely on the commitments they make on mental health.

We know that change is possible, and there are pockets of excellent practice making a huge difference to many lives. This ought to be the standard everywhere.

To have your say, you must ensure you are registered to vote on Thursday 12 December.

If you’re not already registered to vote at your current address, make sure you do it soon! You have until the 26 November and you can register at gov.uk/register-to-vote. If you’re unable to vote in person at a polling station, you can apply for a postal vote or in some circumstances you can apply for someone else – a ‘proxy’ – to vote on your behalf.

You can contact your local Electoral Registration Office if you have any questions about registering to vote. The vast majority of patients in the community, and voluntary patients in mental health hospitals, can vote. Patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983, including those on community treatment orders, have the same right to vote as anyone else.

If you have been admitted as an in-patient at a mental health ward or similar place you can register at your hospital address if you have spent sufficient time there to be regarded as resident. If you are only in hospital a short time then you can still register at what would otherwise be your permanent home.

The next UK government must put mental health at the very heart of its agenda and deliver the support that people rightly expect.

With your support we will continue to campaign to ensure the voices of people experiencing mental health problems are heard.

 

This page is also available in Welsh.

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