In Britain, it’s clear: there is NO existing parity between mental and physical health. Funding for mental health services in five English regions has been reduced by £4.5m. The crisis is particularly difficult for students and young adults. Since 2006, the number of students disclosing a mental health condition to their university has increased from 3,000 to over 15,000 in 2015/16, according to the IPPR.
This is unacceptable.
In short, if you break your leg, it can be quickly treated at A&E. But for a mental breakdown, you’re met with an 18-month to 2 year waiting list. This is not acceptable. Physical and mental health should have parity.
The brief of the Secretary of State for Health is too large for the minister to effectively deal with physical and mental health provision across the UK. The government has already recognised the difficulties of over burdening a single department with responsibilities through Brexit – creating two new departments to cope with the workload.
Why isn’t this the same for the UK’s mental health crisis?
Appointing an equal, independent and accountable Secretary of State with an allocated budget from the Chancellor is one step towards improving conditions for those already suffering a mental health condition. It is also important to reducing stigma which itself, prevents thousands if not millions from accessing support. In the UK in 2016, <5,700 died by suicide and 1-in-15 have attempted suicide at some point in their lives. We must do more. Although Self-harm and suicide are not mental health problems in themselves, they are linked to mental distress.