Dissecting the Queen's Speech: seeking clarity on proposed reform

21 June 2017

My government will reform mental health legislation and ensure that mental health is prioritised in the National Health Service in England.”

Whilst today’s Queen’s Speech confirmed the legislative agenda will be dominated by Brexit legislation, the Conservative minority government has reiterated its commitment to reform mental health legislation. However it did not go so far as to repeal the current Mental Health Act.

Instead the government “will begin to consider what further reform of mental health legislation is necessary” with a view to tackling the rising number of detentions under the Mental Health Act and to challenge discrimination in the workplace. We will be seeking greater clarity on what form this review will take and the timetable for reform.

Alongside this, the government has confirmed that it will publish a Green Paper on Children and Young People’s Mental Health and has committed to making mental health a priority in the NHS with a focus on “making further improvements in early intervention, investing in community services and expanding access to 24/7 crisis care support both in the community and in A&E.”

The Mental Health Foundation is encouraged to see the speech confirm the government’s intentions to make “further improvements in early intervention”, particularly when set against the backdrop of the Conservative party’s recognition in its manifesto that mental health pledges should be integrated into education, criminal justice and digital policies, amongst others.

Mental health is one of the key challenges we face as a nation. Our recent report laid bare the scale of the impact of mental health problems in the UK, revealing that two-thirds of people report experiencing a mental health problem in their lifetime, and that just 13% of people are living with high levels of good mental health. 

To address these concerning findings, we will be looking for opportunities to inform and influence the new government to develop evidence-based mental health strategies that reflect the many challenges across the diversity of our communities to support better mental health for all. With the increased political focus on mental health we are presented with an opportunity to ensure people can exercise the right to health services when problems are at an early stage, as well as rapid action to ensure people receive the right support at crisis points.

We miss too many opportunities to step in early before things reach crisis. That’s why the Mental Health Foundation wants mental health prevention to be front and centre of the health transformation agenda.  

Our mental health priorities for government

  1. A national thriving mental health programme
  2. A Royal Commission to investigate effective ways to prevent poor mental health
  3. A mentally thriving nation report each year
  4. A 100% health check
  5. Fair funding for mental health

See our Chief Executive Jenny Edwards explaining our five key asks: