A MAJOR pledge to tackle mental health was unveiled in Worcester by Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley.
During a campaign event in Fort Royal Park last Wednesday (May 10), the party revealed three pledges to tackle Britain’s growing mental health crisis by giving mental health parity of esteem with physical health and ensuring everyone gets the treatment they need.
Anyone in need of psychological therapy should receive it within 28 days of being referred under the pledge unveiled by Mr Bartley and Deputy Leader Amelia Womack.
New figures released last month show mental health budgets are being cut by £4.5million in five English regions this year, despite the Conservative Party promising to up spending.
The Greens will also introduce awareness and empathy education to help prevent bullying and school-based therapy to treat mental health earlier.
Speaking to the Observer, Mr Bartley said: “We want lessons in PSHE to include mental health awareness to encourage empathy in children for those suffering with mental health issues.
“It should be common sense, if someone is referred for counselling they should receive it within 28 days.
“If you leave it longer it becomes more costly, prompt referrals not only help the person but ease the strain on the public purse and a more efficient use of money.
“I hesitated today to admit I have had counselling but one in four of us had had a mental health problem and we should be free to talk about it,” he said.
Mr Bartley also hopes the policy will see teachers talk to pupils about mental health and help discuss it openly away from the classroom.
“In private schools we have trained counsellors who go in and tackle any problems, it shouldn’t be the preserve of private schools,” he said.
“We should have it in academies, in all schools. Teachers are giving informal counselling often anyway that is the nature of school.
“They need to be equipped to do it properly so it could be included on training days and the like,” he added.
Mr Bartley expressed his delight at the party’s performance in the recent local elections and said the Green Party has a ‘real presence’ in Worcester.
“Louis Stephen is salt of the earth, he’s so committed to the local community and passionate about the local issues,” he said.
“People don’t join the Green Party for political ambition, they join because they care about the issues and they stand because they care about the communities they wish to serve.”