Sharon Hodgson

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ECHO COLUMN: It's high time Government was held accountable for the crisis in mental health provision.

It's high time Government was held accountable for the crisis in mental health provision.


Mental health awareness week, running from the 15th to the 21st of May, is an important opportunity to highlight the crisis of mental health provision in this country.

It is high time this Government is held accountable for the crisis. Thirteen years of managed decline of the NHS has left us with a mental health service that is on its knees.

In light of the ongoing cost of living crisis, where everybody has experienced soaring food bills, utility costs, rents, and mortgages, this year's mental health awareness week theme of anxiety resonates profoundly. Now more than ever, as our pay packets dwindle and financial pressures mount, the significance of addressing anxiety becomes even more poignant, especially in the North East.

According to Public Health England in 2021, before the cost of living crisis, 25% of people in the North East reported feeling high levels of anxiety. This was already a dangerously high proportion that becomes even more dangerous; as research from the Mental Health Foundation suggests that 34% of people in the UK were experiencing anxiety due to financial circumstances at the height of the cost of living crisis in November 2022. This means that our communities are being pushed to breaking point by the cost of living crisis, with disastrous consequences for our region’s mental wellbeing.

Labour has a fully costed plan to improve mental health services and give them the overhaul they desperately need. As part of this plan we commit to a guarantee of treatment within one month of referral. This sets the necessary precedent where we will treat mental health as seriously as physical health. Furthermore, we will provide a health hub in every community and deliver a recruitment drive; recruiting thousands more staff to provide the services our communities desperately need.

A Labour Government will publish the first ever long term, whole government plan to improve mental health outcomes. This plan will centre the needs and care of our children through policies such as rooting youth mental health service access in schools by providing dedicated specialist mental health practitioners in every school. Children will no longer wait months and months vulnerable and in limbo. Instead young people will receive their care in their classrooms - where they are and where they need it most.

If there was ever a sign of how difficult the country has had it for the last 13 years it is the state of mental health provision for our young people. It is time our Government centres children’s wellbeing at the heart of our strategies - paid for by closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest minority at the expense of our public service lifelines.

Read more of Sharon Hodgson's articles here >

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