The promises from the political parties are clear – as mud. Mental health provision matters, but sadly there is little evidence of a thought through set of proposals from either Labour or the Conservatives. Read either of the manifestos and search for the references to mental health and there are many to be found. The extent to which the Tory manifesto is littered with the phrase suggests someone has gone around the document looking for every opportunity to fit it in. The Labour manifesto appears to be a bit less desperate, but what they focus on is the word, and the need as they see it for legislation and indeed a promise to commit more resources to this vital area of health, and the need for mental health provision for young people but the manifestos are completely empty when it comes to solutions. Both have a whole section dedicated to mental health provision but neither have sought to address the practicalities.
If only either party had taken the time to speak to mental health practitioners and indeed other front line services such as the police and the ambulance service, as well as a range of public services and charities. What would make a difference. No one would argue that funding was not needed, despite the rather pathetic apologist approach from the Tories, the funding for mental health services has been a tragic Cinderella service for decades. Equally it may well be that some changes to the law are also necessarily. However just as the RCN has recently stated in this article and as police officers would point out, the real issue is where can people go when they need to be cared for. The fall back position has been the Police Station, to protect those affected and indeed other people from the nonsense of A&E being the ‘designated place of safety’. The establishment of mental health Trusts across the UK should by now have brought about the change to the way in which people are cared for. We need our Parliamentarians to focus the same sort of attention to this issues as they do to TV debates and local hustings when they are obsessed with how such events will be managed. We need them to clarify in detail how their wishes will be outworked on a day to day basis in our communities.