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HEALTHCARE professionals, campaigners and patients gathered at a mental health crisis summit in London yesterday to discuss multiple pressures that are causing a crisis in the service.
Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that generally mental health has been neglected and “crucially” social well-being has not been given the “priority it deserves” under the current government.
“We know the health service is understaffed and overstretched and thousands of nurses have been lost,” Mr Ashworth said.
“The stabbing shortages have been exacerbated by the bursary shortages for training. Labour will bring back these bursaries to address the drop in applications.
“A lack of capital investment has meant that where there are beds in old-style dorm rooms — they are not up to standard.
“We need a system that is not about privatisation but about bringing nurses in through renationalising.”
Mr Ashworth added that poverty and deprivation creates ill-health and said universal credit was the “biggest driver of poverty,” warning against the pressure children are being put under.
National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said that pressure to do well at school and academic anxiety are among children’s main sources of worry.
Mr Courtney said: “Schools should not be something that is damaging to your mental health. But it’s no surprise.
“What we’ve done to the Sats and GCSEs — increasing the difficulty of exams, the reduction in arts, music and sports, the increase in poverty and a lack of good jobs — means that young people think: ‘I need to get good exam results and compete with my friends’.”
Mr Courtney said there was “a clear alternative” and called for an investment in arts and music, and a national education service.
The summit also held workshops on the effect of the hostile environment and racism on mental health, the mental health of workers and campaigning strategies.
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