We need a revolution in mental health

I am delighted to be appointed as one of three new Vice Presidents of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). 

I am currently President of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health I am also a member of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee. My experience from both of these responsibilities, and from listening to constituents, tells me that we need a revolution in how we approach mental health. 

BACP champions the counselling professions and the expertise of its 47,000 counsellor and psychotherapist members, while working to raise professional and ethical standards within the field. 

I firmly believe we need a revolution in mental health, moving away from crisis toward prevention and early intervention; from mental illness to mental health. I know BACP will be part of that revolution and I really look forward to working alongside them and their members in the months and years ahead, to increase their success and impact. 

‘Revolution’ suggests a complete overthrow of the old order and a new system to replace it; I choose this word quite deliberately. We need a wholly new approach to mental health, of which counselling and psychotherapy should be a central part. 

Hundreds of people in Liverpool Wavertree experience mental ill health. But the system supposedly there to help is creaking at the seams. 

A National Health Service designed to deal with people when they are ill, rather than a whole-systems approach which intervenes early and tackles the fundamental causes of mental ill health, will always be on the brink of crisis. 

I want to see a ‘Health in All Policies’ approach that puts an onus on all national and local government departments to consider the nation’s physical and mental health before taking any public decision.  

Where you live, what you earn, how you work, what assets you own, how educated you are, and what your parents did – all these factors have an impact on a person’s length of life, and number of years lived free from physical and mental health conditions. 

Societies which are more equal and more prosperous enjoy better mental health and wellbeing. For this reason, if no other, social justice should run through our social and economic policies like a golden thread.