Cllr Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care, explains why Islington Labour is campaigning for parity of esteem between physical and mental health services.
1 in 6 adults in Islington has at least one diagnosed mental health condition, but the number of people with an undiagnosed condition is estimated to be much higher.
Mental Health Awareness Day (10th October) is an opportunity to reflect on how important mental health services are in supporting people in living fulfilled and independent lives, and helping them on the road to recovery. That is why Islington Labour councillors have been urging the Government to ensure a genuine parity of esteem between physical and mental health services, and for mental health services to be adequately funded.
Many Islington residents are not always receiving the mental health services they need or face extra barriers to accessing them. I’m therefore pleased the Council is looking to commission specific services to help improve access to mental health services for residents from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, through alternative advertising methods and ways of accessing services.
We know that at least one in ten children and young people are affected by mental health problems. They face many challenges, partly through pressures from social media, so it is vital we ensure their mental wellbeing to give them the best opportunities in life. The Council is continuing to work with schools, youth settings and social care services to better co-ordinate services to support young people.
We are also supporting people with mental health conditions by providing specialist employment support through the Mental Health Working Employment Service. In the last year, the service has supported 60 people into employment. Currently, not all people who are referred to the service secure work, so we are working hard to ensure more benefit from the service.
Finding employment can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. It is therefore vital that the Government adequately funds employment support services for people with mental health conditions, so more people who want to work but need that extra bit of support can take their first step.
However, it is clear that, across the country, mental health services are currently not receiving the funding they need to be able to support everyone who needs to access them. Along with Cllr Osh Gantly, Islington’s Mental Health Champion, we are working towards that goal in the borough.
In response to Islington Labour councillors’ recent calls for sufficient funding of mental health services, the Government claimed it will be investing more funding every year by 2020/21. We cannot afford to wait any longer for mental health services to receive this funding, especially with the NHS under increasing pressure after eight years of Tory austerity.
While we welcome the Government’s confirmation that it is committed to delivering parity of esteem between physical and mental health, this cannot be in words only. Islington Labour will continue to campaign for a genuine parity of esteem between physical and mental health, and for mental health services to be sufficiently funded, so that everyone who needs that support can access it.