Socialist Worker

Hancock's half-cocked response to crisis in mental health

Issue No. 2625

Tory health secretary Matt Hancock

Tory health secretary Matt Hancock (Pic: Chris McAndrew)

Tory health secretary Matt Hancock offered warm words in the run-up to World Mental Health Day on Wednesday.

He urged a ministerial summit to “take this opportunity to deliver parity for mental health so it is treated the same as physical health”.

On the same day, new research exposed the scale of the crisis in mental health services.

Almost a quarter of mental health patients are being forced to wait three months to see a specialist on the NHS.

And around a fifth have been made to wait over a year to get proper treatment.

One patient told researchers from the Royal College of Psychiatrists that they had to wait 13 years to get the right support.

Some of the worst affected patients are vulnerable children and teenagers.

A separate piece of research found that around 55,800 children were turned away from child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) in 2017-18. An Education Policy Institute researcher said this included “children and young people that have self-harmed or experienced abuse”.

Referrals to Camhs rose by 26 percent in the last five years.

Local authority budget cuts and the acute NHS staffing crisis lie behind the figures.

Austerity has intensified the pressures that worsen mental distress—and kicked away the services that can help alleviate it.

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