Ben Dolbear Reviews What The Mental Health Charity Wants To See From New PM Johnson.
Photo by Lulia Mihailov
A Call For Help
In an open letter to the new prime minister Boris Johnson, Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, has requested that he and his government, as a matter of urgency, “act quickly” in the fight against poor mental health. Setting out the importance of the issue, Mind, along with over 3000 signatories hoping that the new prime minister will reverse cuts to mental health services seen under Theresa May, remind Johnson of his duty to help the two thirds of people experiencing poor mental health who receive no treatment at all for their condition.
The charity also asks the prime minister of the UK to update the Mental Health Act, originally brought into law in 1983, and amended most recently in 2007. Mind argues that the Act, which “covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health disorder”, should be updated to reflect 21st century experiences of people living with a mental health condition. In the past, the Act has been criticised by Mind for failing to “address rising detentions, racial disparity in the use of the Act and concerns about human rights and dignity”.
Turning Around A Poor Record
The open letter also addresses the effect of Conservative austerity on mentally ill benefits claimants which “adds to their distress and anxiety and pushes them further away from work”. However, some are pessimistic about the new prime minister’s resolve in bringing about radical, positive reform which will improve the quality of life for those living with a mental health condition, and point towards recent comments of his regarding mental health as justification for this attitude.
In a recent Telegraph column, Johnson referenced wartime prime minister Winston Churchill and his well-documented experience with mental health, writing that is was “with work that he pitchforked off his depression”. He went on to write, “[i]t is often from our jobs – from being engrossed in our daily tasks – that we get that all-important sense of satisfaction”, and it is this comparison between hard work and mental health, and implicit judgmental attitude towards unemployed sufferers of poor mental health, that has alarmed so many political observers.
Tackling Burning Injustices
Other organisations have also been calling on the prime minister to prioritise mental health in his government, with Wendy Burn, the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, saying recently that, “bolstering the mental health care workforce should be [his] priority”, after picking up on his pledge to offer tax breaks to employer’s who support staff mental health. The New Philanthropy Capital’s chief executive has also said that Boris Johnson must do “more than Theresa May” to tackle the burning injustices in our society such as poor provisions for mental health support.
In its letter, Mind refers to its Time to Deliver briefing, which outlines what it deems to be the six priorities for any government in dealing with the mental health crisis, including providing care in the right place and in the right time, and addressing the growing problem in youth mental health.
Those who want to add their names to the growing list of signatories asking the new prime minister to prioritise the mental health crisis can do so here. | Tru. 🌱
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