Clive Bull 1am - 4am
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan: Government is 'turning a blind eye' to mental health
24 October 2020, 23:09 | Updated: 25 October 2020, 12:30
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, the Shadow Mental Health Minister, has accused the Government of "turning a blind eye" to people's mental health amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Labour are calling for the Government to set a wellbeing guarantee ahead of winter, over fears a mental health crisis is just on the horizon.
In a stinging critique of the handling of the population's mental health, Dr Allin Khan added that "the time to act is now" and berated the Government for not meeting with a mental health trust during the lockdown and subsequent months.
In a statement she said: "The Government has turned a blind eye to the mental health crisis that has exploded following the Government's response to Covid-19.
"People's mental health across the country has been hugely impacted by Covid-19 and the Government's lack of action.
"The time to act is now – we need a concerted government strategy for mental health this winter.
"As the clocks go back this weekend and the days grow shorter, people's mental health needs to be at the centre of the Government's response to Covid-19."
Labour is urging the government to:
Actively promote ways to improve mental health as people face restrictions
Work to ensure continued access to services and treatment that might be affected by government rules
Commit to ensuring data is regularly collected on mental health and referral times
Regularly meet with experts from the sector
Labour is also calling for action to protect the mental health of frontline health and care staff as the most recent NHS absence rates revealed that 32% of all sickness absence in the NHS, in June, was for mental health reasons – up three per cent from May.
Mental health related absences were three times higher than Covid related sickness at this time.
The call comes as recent NHS figures revealed how one in six children now suffers a mental health disorder, highlighing how lockdown has made conditions such as depression and anxiety worse.
The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England study found increasing rates of boys and girls experiencing poor mental health, including problems sleeping and anxiety about the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report highlighted how children and young people with a probable mental disorder were more likely to say that lockdown had made their life worse (54% of 11 to 16-year-olds, and 59% of 17 to 22-year-olds), than those unlikely to have a mental disorder (39% and 37%).
Children and young people with a probable mental disorder were also more likely to experience anxieties about the pandemic than those without.
Some 43% of 11 to 16-year-olds said life was a little or much worse due to Covid-19, as did 43% of 17 to 22-year-olds.