Politicians, listen up: This is what we want

Mental health charities share their manifestos ahead of the Senedd elections

IN the countdown to the Senedd elections on May 6, charities and other organisations have started to announce their own manifestos – what they would like to see our politicians carry out.

These manifestos can be really useful tools in deciding how to vote based on what is important to you. So, in the first of a series, we shall be giving you all the important takeaways.

This week: mental health

According to Mind, more that two thirds of adults with mental health problems reported that their mental health declined during lockdown.

“I’m constantly anxious,” said one woman from Cardiff who did not want to be named.

“Everything is so uncertain and sometimes I feel such an overwhelming sense of dread that I can’t bring myself to get out of bed for fear of what might happen.”

The pandemic has affected everyone’s mental health in some way but the impact has not been evenly spread. Here is what mental health charities want from the next Welsh government as Wales emerges from lockdown.

Mind Cymru

  • A cross-government approach to mental health involving multiple departments, a new overall strategy and a review of mental health legislation;
  • Inequalities in access to mental health to be addressed, particularly for those in poverty and from black and ethnic minorities;
  • A focus on the growing crisis in young people’s mental health;
  • A commitment to ensuring “safe and speedy access” to good quality care, including 24/7 crisis care;
  • Greater focus, planning and investment in mental health primary care and talking therapies;
  • A focus on overcoming the mental health stigma, particularly in workplaces.

The Mental Health Foundation

  • A cross-government approach targeted at preventing mental health problems;
  • A focus on inequalities in access to mental health care;
  • Making public services trauma-informed, i.e. focused on listening, empathy and a person-centred approach;
  • Broadening access to health professionals able to refer people to local, non-clinical services including arts projects, peer-to-peer projects and access to nature;
  • An assessment and increase of rural mental health support.

Jenny Burns, associate director of Wales at the MHF, said: “The pandemic has impacted on all our lives, including our mental health and well-being. However, deep inequalities exist in our society which means some people will be hit harder than others.

“We want the new Government to commit to a new prevention strategy for mental health that recognises that early years, housing, education, employment, health and social care can all work together to protect well-being and reduce the risk of experiencing poor mental health.”

BEAT Cymru

  • The Welsh Eating Disorder Service Review’s recommendations should be fully implemented;
  • A focus on the early identification of eating disorders and ensuring that sufferers are supported when seeking help;
  • Medical students and junior doctors in Wales to be “appropriately taught” about eating disorders and benefit from “specialist clinical experience of eating disorders”;
  • Mental health research to be equally valued with other research in Wales;
  • Public health campaigns on obesity in Wales to be informed by eating disorder experts to prevent messaging from distressing or exacerbating those diagnosed with, or at risk of developing, an eating disorder.

Samaritans Cymru

  • All schools to have a “structured and effective approach” to emotional health and wellbeing;
  • Poverty and its impacts to be mitigated by funding evidence-based services and taking a cross-government approach;
  • Collaboration between multiple sectors to mitigate suicides in locations with a high frequency of deaths by suicide;
  • Self-harm to be prioritised;
  • The continuation of a resourced national strategy and action plan for suicide and self-harm prevention for Wales

Next week, we take a look at the manifestos and demands of environmental charities and organisations.

For more resources ahead of the Senedd election, take a look at: