Jeremy Corbyn: ‘We have to change attitudes towards mental health’

The Labour leader vows to address the mental health crisis in the UK

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to address the mental health crisis in the UK if the Labour Party win the 2017 general election.

A key part of the Labour Manifesto and increasing funding for the NHS, Corbyn and his party have been very vocal in their commitment to improving mental health treatment. Now in a new interview with Kerrang!, Corbyn has spoken out about how much needs to be done.

Speaking of how one in four people is likely to have a mental health crisis in their lifetime, Corbyn said: “Do we suffer alone and do it in silence, or do we talk to each other about it? Many people don’t have the confidence to say to somebody else, ‘you know what? I’m having a really hard time’. And if you’re a school, 13 or 14, a bit isolated and a bit alone, going through a deep stress, who do you talk to?

“You probably wouldn’t go to a teacher because you might not be close to them, you may not have close friends you could talk to and you wouldn’t want to tell your parents. You look at the suicides that happen amongst young people…I spoke at the funeral of a young girl who had committed suicide near here a few months back – she was 16. We have to change that.”

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn continued: “Music can help with that, because music can be people describing their own dark period, and can also help people have an interest in something else. But it’s also about changing attitudes, and if prominent people – musicians, sportsmen, actors – are prepared to talk about it, then that does change the mood. But, also, you need to have the support there. If one of us was having a problem and we went to our GP, you might have a very good GP who will say ‘Yes! We understand and we will support you’. And they put you forward for some talking therapy, you’ll probably be waiting six months before you get any.”

– Read more: ‘Am I despressed?’ Help and advice on what to do next

On the current inadequate levels of mental health care in the UK, Corbyn said: “Somebody contacted me who I know quite well, and she’s a mental health campaigner, and she said that she’d found out the nearest emergency bed for someone having a crisis in 100 miles away. Are any of your friends going to be able to visit you? So then you end up in a homecare place of some sort, possibly sectioned, with insufficient mental health [care]. I’m not sure you’re going to get better that way.”

Concluding that more needs to be done to destroy the stigma that still surrounds discussing mental health, Corbyn added: “I feel very strongly on that, on the health service, but there’s also a big role for the voluntary sector.

“I’m involved in a number of voluntary mental health charities, and I feel very strongly on the issue, and I want to change it. That’s why in [the Labour Manifesto].”

FOR HELP AND ADVICE ON MENTAL HEALTH:

Never before has so much been at stake in an election, and rarely have the two main parties offered such different pitches for governing the country. NME’s ‘plus one’ campaign wants you to take a mate to the polls. We know you’re a great person and you’ve already registered. But it’s time to make sure your mates are up to speed. This Thursday morning, hoist them away from their bowl of cereal and towards the polling station.