The Race Equality Foundation is proud to be one of more than 30 of the country’s biggest organisations with an interest in mental health, representing millions of people, to have come together with the Centre for Mental Health to develop and promote a plan to address worsening mental health.
Ahead of the UK general election, we will campaign for these policies to be adopted as part of a 10-year, cross-government mental health strategy for England, ideally to begin in the first year of the next Parliament.
It is hoped that this plan will help people to access better mental health through better
Discrimination and disadvantage mean that risks to mental health are much higher in some groups, such as racialised communities. People with mental health difficulties are often treated less well in society, including in the social security and justice systems. And people with a severe mental
illness have a life expectancy up to 20 years shorter than the general population. Addressing these injustices must be at the heart of creating a mentally healthier nation.
Tackle racism in all its forms must include ending ‘hostile environment’ policies, preventing school exclusions that disproportionately affect racialised children, and taking sustained action to boost race equality throughout mental health services. We believe that politicians should set a target to close the health gap within a decade. People with a severe mental illness shouldn’t be dying up to 20 years too soon. They need fair access to health checks, stop smoking services, vaccinations and cancer screening.
New polling commissioned by Rethink Mental Illness finds that the UK population now ranks mental health as a more important issue than unemployment, industrial action, and Brexit. Under-40s rank its importance even above climate change.
The cost-of-living crisis, Covid19 pandemic, austerity and other challenges have worsened many people’s circumstances. Given that mental health is so strongly influenced by life conditions, we are facing higher rates of mental ill health. This is causing preventable misery, death, demand on stretched services, lost economic productivity, and costs of tens of billions of pounds.
However, we know from programmes that have been properly funded, supported and measured, such as the mental health elements of NHS England’s Long Term Plan, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, the Time to Change stigma-busting campaign, Sure Start centres for families, Individual Placement and Support, and the Better Mental Health Fund, that proper investment in evidence-based and informed interventions can support significant improvements, reducing distress and cutting costs.
The nation’s mental health is a precious resource. Securing better mental health for more people will create a fairer, healthier, and more prosperous future for us all. We’re calling on MPs and parliamentary candidates to adopt these policies, include them in their parties’ election manifestoes, and deliver them in government.
Read A Mentally Healthier Nation campaign summary here and the full strategy here.