RCPsych responds to Labour Party’s mental health policy announcement

Statement / comment
22 May 2023

Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer announced policies to reduce suicide rates and improve mental health treatment in a speech today. 

Responding to the announcement, Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“We support the Labour Party’s pledge to reduce rates of suicide. While most cases of completed suicide are linked to mental illness, at-risk patients are not being identified or offered the mental health treatment that could have prevented their death.

“The focus on preventing mental illness is the right approach. Mental illness can in many cases be prevented with early intervention and by tackling root causes including inequality, racism and abuse. Schools, for example, provide a particularly important space for early intervention. This focus must be shared with treating and delivering care for all for those who need it. 

“A long-term whole of Government plan to improve outcomes for people with mental illness is urgently needed. Adults with severe mental illness are almost five times more likely to die prematurely than the rest of the population with two out of three deaths from preventable illnesses. 

“This will only be achieved by addressing the chronic workforce shortages that prevent people from accessing treatment when they need it. Mental health services are critically over stretched. We are 700 consultant psychiatrists short, and need to significantly expand the mental health workforce if the system is to deliver a sufficient level of care.

“We look forward to hearing more details about how these policies will be delivered.”

The College's National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH) runs a National Suicide Prevention Programme that aims to reduce the number of suicide deaths in England.

Campaigning for better mental health policy

Our Policy and Campaigns team leads the College's work to improve mental health care through work with partner organisations – including the Mental Health Policy Group – and government.

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