Over recent months I have been working a new paper for Centre Think Tank, ‘A second pandemic’, which focuses on dealing with the growing mental health crisis after the pandemic. This crisis has happened not only due to the pandemic but also because of a system wide failure. Our mental health services are underfunded, disjointed, understaffed and are working in constant crisis management.
If the government really wants to level up, then it needs to pay serious attention to our mental health services. It’s because improving mental health isn’t just about better healthcare, it’s also about increasing productivity and a better standard of life for everyone.
The plan I have created, with the help of colleagues at Centre Think Tank, is one that will level up the entire mental health system across all age ranges. It demands wholesale reform for every corner of the system and does so head on. We can’t compromise on the health of our children, workers and elderly.
For young people in education, we want to scrap SATs and the 11+ whilst also reforming GCSEs and A levels to allow for more flexibility. This will take some of the strain off students during their education and hopefully prevent the stress sometimes involved with these exams. CAMHS should also be integrated into schools with internal referral systems meaning that if students do have issues, they can seek support easily.
For the workplace we advocate a system of collective bargaining where workers and firms can discuss and strengthen legally binding workplace and health rights. This will allow a flexible and tailored plan for each sector decided by those who know best about it. We also support mental health hubs within workplaces to help with referring workers for specialist mental health support. These measures will help to save businesses money which would have been lost to sick leave and lower productivity whilst also creating a happier and healthier workforce.
For our seniors we have a care crisis and poor quality of care homes. These are harming the mental health amongst our elderly and leading to deterioration of mental and physical health. We want to create free at the point of use social care system using a ring-fenced fund that everyone contributes to throughout their life. However, whilst having these systems in place would help, improving mental health support is also about how we deliver support. That’s why we need intergenerational care and community hubs to create purpose and friendships for everyone in old age.
Finally, there is how we want the mental health system to be reformed throughout the UK. We support a joined-up NHS umbrella with a mental health support with integrated mental health support and extra funding. We also want more treatments available such as the legalisation of medical drugs such as psilocybin alongside a Guaranteed Minimum Income which will support anyone who falls on tough times.
These are just some of the detailed policy proposals we have developed to tackle an increasing crisis we have for years failed to tackle, whether it is a Labour or Conservative government. We need to not only deal with the crisis of mental health but the causes of it, in financial stress, a lack of workplace support and pressures within education.