Mental Health & The Election

A mental health problem is reality for many young people. Credit: George Watkins

By George Watkins

Youth mental health services are in crisis, having battled against staff shortages, immense cuts and a lack of public support from the vast majority of politicians. Regardless of the party you choose to vote for on June 8th, it needs to be a much bigger issue than it currently is.

Statistically at least 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their life. 75% of these conditions will have manifested themselves by the age of 18, and over 50% will remain untreated (all figures from StudentMinds and other affiliated charities) As someone with personal experiences of a condition that falls into these statistics, this troubles me.

In 2015, the Coalition Government promised £1.25 billion to prop up CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), but hundreds of millions of pounds of this money has been diverted to other places. As Young Minds research pointed out, 2/3 of CCGs (GP-run healthcare purchasing schemes) used this money to “backfill cuts or to spend on other priorities”. This has led to a mass increase in job losses in key positions, such as school counsellors, social workers and other figures key to supporting young people with mental health difficulties.

Theresa May issued a recent pledge to improve mental health care in schools and the workplace, but promising only £15 million. At first glance this sounds like a positive step, but weighed up against the scale of the recent cuts, it seems relatively minuscule. As Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP and key advocate of the issue in the Houses Of Parliament, has said in response to this pledge: “This is a puny response to a burning injustice and an attempt to cover up for this Government’s failure to deliver on promised investment for children’s mental health.”

Symptoms of this crisis are seen in the facts. For example, 130 students took their own lives at universities in the UK in 2014. There is no clear link between these statements, but it makes you wonder that, if adequate funding had been there, perhaps crisis intervention would have been able to have been implemented and maybe change the outcomes. Whoever you vote for, every young person deserves equal access to support for mental health, or the figures will continue to rise, and lives will continue to be ravaged by such issues.