King’s Speech ‘disappointing’ – with absence of long-term decisions on mental health for future generations

Statement / comment
07 November 2023

In response to today's King's Speech, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Lade Smith CBE said:

“His Majesty spoke of 'long-term decisions for future generations'. However, it was disappointing to see there was no inclusion of new and long-term investment in mental healthcare to meet the expanding need and demand.

“As feared, reform of the Mental Health Act was not included in the King’s speech – which means it will not be achieved before the next General Election, despite being promised by this Government in its last manifesto. We have seen no action from Government to tackle the underlying causes of rising detentions under the Mental Health Act. These continue to rise at an unacceptable rate, with people from Black and racialised communities facing hugely disproportionate rates of detention. 

“In the absence of this vital reform, the College will continue to work with Government, NHS and patient groups to promote the dignity, autonomy and human rights of people subject to the Act, while also pushing for the legislation to be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

“People with mental illness are much more likely to smoke and less likely to access smoking cessation services. Those with severe mental illness continue to die on average 15-20 years earlier than the general population, due to preventable physical illness. A major contributing factor to this is smoking. We therefore welcome the plans for a Tobacco and Vapes Bill, a future with smoke-free generations is a positive one.  

“Government has also failed to move forward any plans to ban conversion practices for LGBTQ+ people. Conversion practices can cause severe physical and psychological suffering and violate the human rights of LGBTQ+ people. Legislation must be introduced to address this as a matter of urgency. 

“Given the enormous negative impact on mental health, we welcome the focus on easing the cost-of-living crisis, increasing economic growth and safeguarding the health and security of the British people.  

“There are 1.35million people out of work with a mental illness and a record 1.4 million people are now on waiting lists for NHS mental health services. Seventy-five percent of mental illness arise before the age of 24-years. Much of this is avoidable and can be effectively treated if caught early. 

“To give future generations the opportunity to achieve their potential and support them to become truly productive members of society, Government must make a genuine commitment to long-term investment in mental healthcare, over and above that which we have already had. This will not only be good for individuals and their families, it will also be transformative for the prosperity of the nation.”

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