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Mind responds to mental health policy announcement at Labour Party Conference

Wednesday, 29 September 2021 Mind

Today, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced a series of mental health policies that his party would introduce if they win power at the next General Election.

These include:

- Guaranteeing NHS mental health treatment within a month for all who need it 

- Recruiting 8,500 new staff so that one million additional people can access treatment every year by the end of Labour’s first term in office

- Putting an open access mental health hub for children and young people in every community, providing early intervention, drop-in services 

- Bringing in a long-term, whole-Government plan for improving mental health outcomes

- Giving mental health its fair share of funding

Responding to the announcement, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs, said:

"We are pleased to see some concrete policy proposals about mental health that, if implemented, could make a huge difference to the thousands of people experiencing mental health problems in England - many who have seen their mental health deteriorate because of the pandemic.

 "As record numbers of people seek mental health support from the NHS, a commitment to making sure people are seen within four weeks is exactly what is needed; we know many people's mental health problems get worse while they wait for treatment, with some ending up in crisis. Reducing waiting times for mental health treatment would also put it on a more equal footing with physical health treatment. We welcome this ambitious promise, but it would need sufficient funding, including to boost staff numbers, for it to become a reality in the near future.

"It is also encouraging to see such a focus on children and young people's mental health, as we know they are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. There is a groundswell of support for the idea that this age group should be able to refer themselves for mental health support early on at local hubs, rather than needing to meet clinical thresholds to get help, and it is good to see Labour joining this, alongside a cross-section of MPs, celebrities and young people themselves.

"A commitment to improving access to talking therapies is also good, as we know many people benefit from them. We would like to see this commitment extended to the full range of mental health services that exist for adults, including crisis care, which some people will still need. 

"There is also helpful recognition in this suite of policies that all of UK Government must be involved in equipping the nation's mental health for the future. This cannot just sit with the Department of Health and Social Care or the NHS. A clear cross-governmental plan would help to make sure each department is committed to doing what it can within its remit. We in the Voluntary and Community Sector also have a role to play and are ready to support people on the ground, alongside what the state offers.

"It is encouraging to see the Labour Party prioritising mental health as the nation recovers from the pandemic and looks to the future. Should these policies become a reality, they could transform people's mental health experiences but would need to be properly funded to make that difference."

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