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Politicians don’t fully grasp scale of mental health crisis

Wednesday, 05 June 2024 Mind

The absence of mental health in last night’s leadership debate shows the public understand the scale of the mental health emergency in a way politicians don’t yet. That’s according to the first release of election polling by leading mental health charity Mind (conducted by More in Common). 

The charity found the public sees increasing spending on mental health as an even greater priority than education, housing, defence, the environment, and energy security. And that there is widespread concern over the state of mental health services. 

Spending on mental health a national priority 

Mental health services ranked in the top five of the public’s priorities for increased spending, alongside: healthcare, hospital services, GP services, police and emergency services. 

Widespread concern over mental health services 

Public concern over the state of NHS mental health services is widespread. Two-thirds (67%) of the public are “very” or “somewhat concerned” about NHS mental health services, including 76% of typical Red Wall voters from More in Common’s Loyal National segment. 

A significant proportion of the public are also concerned about access to mental health services. Nearly half (49%) think mental health support through the NHS is difficult to access, and most people aren’t confident that they could access support through the NHS if they needed it. 

Mental health in numbers 

  • Nearly 2 million people are waiting for NHS mental health services 

  • Since 2017 the number of young people struggling with their mental health has nearly doubled  

  • 40% of mental health providers across the country were rated as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ for safety by the CQC this year. 

  • Almost 1 in 5 mental health nursing posts are vacant, contributing to an over-use of restrictive practices, including restraint, seclusion, and segregation. 

  • Black people are over 3 and a half times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white people. They're more than 8 times more likely to be subject to a community treatment order. 

  • 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems fall out of work every year. 

Dr Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive of Mind, added: 

“The mental health system is at breaking point. The public understands this, but its absence from last night’s debate shows our political leaders don’t yet fully grasp the scale of the problem. 

“Some of the rhetoric around mental health problems over the past few weeks has left many of us with mental health problems feeling deeply worried and anxious. This has come through clearly in the comments and messages Mind has received on social media and in the calls to our helplines. It’s absence from last night’s debate is equally troubling. 

“But there is hope. There are policies that politicians from all parties can commit to in the weeks and months ahead that will move the dial on mental health, including: reforming the outdated Mental Health Act and raising the standard of mental health hospitals and investing in services like early support hubs for children and young people; fixing benefits assessments and improving mental health at work.” 

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