I'll vote for a government that supports people with their mental health

Yahoo News is conducting interviews with voters across the country to understand the issues that will influence their vote ahead of the July 4th election. One such voter is Mel Rose, a 25-year-old from Wrexham, Wales, who is concerned about mental health support and the cost of living crisis.

Rose has struggled with mental health issues since she was 11, when a comment from a schoolmate triggered a lifelong battle with bulimia, anxiety, depression, and emotional personality disorder. Despite receiving NHS therapy for several years, Rose was abruptly informed two years ago that her therapy would no longer be funded, leaving her feeling devastated and overwhelmed. She believes that a government that prioritizes mental health support and addresses the cost of living crisis is essential for her vote.

The lack of mental health support is a widespread issue, with around 1.9 million people waiting for NHS mental health treatment in England, according to research from the Children’s Commissioner. In Wales, where Rose resides, the number of people waiting for mental health treatment has not been published, but an ITV Wales investigation found that some children were waiting almost two years for NHS mental health support.

Rose believes that mental health should be a top priority for any incoming government, regardless of whether health is a devolved issue or not. The Conservative Party has pledged to reduce debt and cut waiting lists for NHS care, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats have been more outspoken about tackling mental health. The Labour Party’s manifesto includes promises to reform the Mental Health Act, improve mental health services, and take a prevention-focused cross-government approach to address the social determinants of mental health.

Rose is supportive of all plans to improve mental health services but says she is hesitant to believe politicians’ promises. She believes that having a qualified mental health professional in every school and a 24/7 phone line for booking GP appointments, as promised by the Liberal Democrats, could have made a difference in her life. However, she is concerned about the cost of private therapy and the impact of the cost of living crisis on her mental health.

Rose has never voted before but plans to do so in the upcoming election. She is critical of the government’s response to mental health issues and believes that politics has not seemed relevant to her in the past. She hopes that the incoming government will make their policies more accessible and engaging for young people like herself.

The cost of living crisis is also affecting the mental health of many young people in Wales, with more than a third of 16–34-year-olds reporting declining mental health in the past year. The charity Mind Cymru found that one in five people in Rose’s age group have had to use a food bank in the past 12 months, and high proportions of this age group are experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and eating problems.

Dr Sarah Hughes, chief executive of Mind, has called for the incoming government to invest in and improve mental health services, reform the benefits system and sick pay, and make reforms to the outdated Mental Health Act. Rose hopes that the incoming government will prioritize mental health support and address the cost of living crisis to improve the lives of people like herself who are struggling with their mental health.

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