In the past couple of months mental health has well and truly come to the forefront of the UK government; with all political parties talking about how they believe we can improve mental health services and with mental health effecting nearly every department of government, is it time for this government to create a minister for mental health in their cabinet?
We have seen in September 2015; Jeremy Corbyn created a position in the shadow cabinet of (shadow minister for mental health,) which saw Luciana Berger MP step up to the mark and start pursuing the government on all things mental health related. So with all of this said why hasn't the government created a minister for mental health?
Recently I did a poll on Twitter asking people the question above with 75% of people answering the question believing we do need a minister for mental health with only 25% of people believing that we don't.
In my opinion this is a very clear endorsement by certain members of the public that we need a minister for mental health.
Mental health effects every area of government in varying degrees from our NHS that has seen the highest rise in young people seeking help for mental health disorders. In our prisons where we have seen nine out of ten prisoners suffering from one or more mental health disorders and 95% of young offenders suffering from one or more mental health disorder. With immigration we have seen many immigrants arriving at our shores some of whom will suffer from mental health difficulties, worsened by the ordeal they have experienced. In our schools we are seeing young people suffering from mental health disorders dropping out because there isn't the correct level of support in our education system. Finally to welfare where many young people with mental health disorders are ending up due to not being able to work because of a mental health condition and a lack of adequate support to help them return to education and meaningful work.
I could go on and on about every area of government that is effected by poor mental health but the headline figure from 2014 is that poor mental health cost the economy 105.2 billion and this is thought to have risen in 2015 and to further rise in 2016.
Mental health is too big an issue to not have its own minister to see over all parts of government.
I asked a range of people what they thought about a minister for mental health in the current government, Sara Hawthorn; 20 years old from Newcastle said "Having a minister for mental health would be great; someone who would get stuff done; just having a shadow minister is not enough."
I inevitably decided to ask a Labour Party member Alex Cheney what he thought of having an opposition to Luciana Berger, he said "Yeah basically it would give people with mental health problems a voice on both sides of the house but I doubt the Tories would ever do it"
It's not just Labour party members that are sceptical of the idea of a minister specifically for mental health, Paul Lee Buckley; a conservative councillor says "not a cabinet position perhaps, but a dedicated cross-departmental minister in the Cabinet Office to assess the impact of government policy on mental health."
This mixed range of views shows that many are sceptical of the idea, with many believing a cross departmental cabinet office position would better suit the cause, there are some however who believe that a minister for mental health at the heart of the cabinet could make things better for those who suffer so cruelly from mental illness.