Funding for mental health services and mental health issues generally came into the spotlight during the recent general election campaign. Each party included reference to mental health policies in their manifesto, and it appears to be an issue not only of growing concern but also one people have an increased awareness of. It is vital, however, that during the Brexit storm we do not lose sight of other integral issues, including those of mental health. BBC news found that funding for the NHS for mental health services had fallen by 8.25% (£600 million) over the course of the last Parliament, and research published by Young Minds in 2014 found that 77% of NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (74% of the 96% which reported) had frozen or cut their Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) budgets.

The Conservative Party promised in their 2017 manifesto that they would deliver the ‘first new mental health bill for 30 years, to put parity of esteem at the heart of treatment and end the stigma of mental illness once and for all’. This was a message emphasised by Theresa May over the course of the campaign, and one which was reiterated as being of vital importance during her slot in Leaders’ Question Time immediately prior to the election. However, questions arose, for both the Tories and the Labour party, about how significant change would be funded. In the midst of a collapsing NHS and an impending Brexit, fears are increasing over how staffing needs could be met, and how the Tories could deliver on the promise to increase NHS mental health staff by 10,000 by 2020.

The debate around NHS funding and the current staffing crisis has received huge media attention, and has been at the centre of Brexit debates as it becomes more evident the impact it will have on health and care services. Many people with mental health issues will be seen mainly by their GP and not by a mental health team, a significant fact considering the current strain on primary care services. There were nearly three million people on GP registers for depression over 2013 to 2014, with a further 500,000 on GP registers for other serious mental illness.

This calls into question the quality of care for those with mental health problems. Evidence shows an increase in the number of reported mental illness and subsequent diagnoses. However, some patients still have complaints over how they have been treated by the professionals who worked with them, and change has been called for regarding the Capability of Work Assessment (which Labour promised to overturn in their last manifesto), with patients calling it unfair and impersonal. Exactly how care needs to be improved seems obvious, but whether or not we can expect changes to be implemented in the near future is questionable, despite promises from party leaders and a heightened awareness on the part of the public.