It’s not just about the funding that will go directly to the NHS and into mental health services. It’s not just about the funding to education that will enable us to better research mental wellbeing. It’s not just about the protection of the welfare state. It’s about so much more than that.
Whilst May pays lip service to mental health, she and the Conservative government have overseen:
– Almost 19,000 teenagers admitted to hospital for self-harm in 2015/16, an increase of 14 per cent since 2013/4 and 68 percent across the last decade
– Annual cuts to mental health services of £598 million between 2010 and 2015, so 8.25% in real terms.
– Last year, The Guardian reported waiting lists of up to three years in eating disorder services
– In 2016, 19.7 per cent of British people reported experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, up from 18.3 percent the previous year
– ¼ of all people who require mental health services have access to them
A Labour vote is a vital step towards better mental health and away from the devastating effects of Tory rule, and here’s why:
Increasingly, there are calls from Psychologists to recognise the absolutely devastating impact that austerity and poverty are having on our mental health. Recently, the British Psychological Society issued a statement that begged the government to ‘suspend its benefits sanctions system’. In 2015, counsellors, psychotherapists and mental health workers wrote a letter to the guardian demanding an end to the ‘emotional toxicity’ of austerity and Psychologists Against Austerity (or Psychologists for Social Change as they are now known), were set up with the slogan ‘equality is the best therapy’. Why? Because as there is increasingly more evidence to say that social, political, economic and environmental factors are wreaking havoc on mental health and medical models are becoming increasingly out-dated with a lack of evidence to support them. Fighting austerity is fighting the root cause, which we should welcome with open arms after years of not even receiving tokenistic sticking plasters.
Reduction of Inequality and a £10 Living Wage
A by-product of anti-austerity policy is a reduction of inequality in multiple spheres, this means a reduction of widening social class gaps. In ‘The Spirit Level’, meta-analyses of global socio-economic conditions demonstrated the clear negative impact of widening inequality gaps. If we have more time and money, we’ll not only have less financial burdens, better living standards, more time to put into fulfilling personal projects and relationships, but more support to carry on fighting for socialism.
Under Labour, workers’ rights that are fast being eroded can and will be restored. Draconian laws that require increasingly larger numbers to ballot for strikes, that prevent solidarity strikes and allow strike-staffing are deeply affecting our work relations. Why is this relevant to mental health? Because the alienation we feel from our work creates detachment from ourselves and our communities, because the treatment we get from our bosses affects our self-esteem and self-worth, and because our working hours are getting longer – not giving us enough time to enjoy other aspects of our lives and feel fulfilled.
A Chance to Fight for Freedom of Movement
With the far-right rising across Europe and one of the most right-wing cabinets we’ve seen for many decades in the UK, the constant slew of xeno-racism seems ever-increasing and this is reflected in the rise in racist hate crime. This works to divide society and increase the individualism that breaks up communities, it makes us aggressive and anxious and it leaves more terrifying prospects for BAME communities amongst us. Neither fearing harassment and abuse, detention centres and deportation or the PREVENT agenda nor feeling detached and fearful are conducive to good mental health. With Labour in power, we’re better equipped to fight anti-migrant rhetoric together and extend our solidarity to migrants.
Free Higher Education and More Funding For Schools
I am a student and I know the immense toll that my University fees have on me and my well-being. Now grants have been slashed and tuition fees are set to rise again, our generation without a Labour government will have to deal with the emotional burden of sky high debt. Myriad research exists that shows us that financial burdens have a high impact on our mental health, and not only do we have a tough job market with little rights to enter into, we have a high chance we may forever live with increasing debt hanging over our heads. In addition, schools that may once have been a safe haven for young children are becoming increasingly strained with overworked, underpaid teachers, of which 93% say that pupils bring more worries into school than they did five years ago. Education is a right, it is a form of empowerment, it betters our lives immensely and it’s being taken away from us.
There are so many fights that need to be won in our battle for good mental health and a good standard of living, but campaigning and voting for Labour is a vital start. That’s the reason I will not just be voting Labour but campaigning with every spare moment because we’re in crisis and if we don’t choose to put our all into this then we lose trust, connection, community and dignity over alienation, fear, humiliation, degradation and shame.