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Manifestos and Mental Health: What are the Political Parties’ Priorities?

As the prevalence of poor mental health and illness rises in England and Wales and the demand for mental health support intensifies, especially within the VCSE service provider sector, ensuring positive mental health outcomes has become increasingly vital.

With the general election just days away, it’s important to highlight the key commitments each major political party has made towards mental health and social care in their manifestos.

Below is a brief overview of the pledges from the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, and Plaid Cymru focusing on mental health and social care, and some of the key gaps that need to be addressed.

Mental Health Awareness Across Manifestos

It is positive to see that the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, and Plaid Cymru have all offered commitment around mental health in their election manifestos.

The UK has seen a significant shift in political rhetoric with mental health now being seen as an important issue and this is visible through the focus in each party’s priorities.

We know that this shift comes at a time of greater need for VCSE mental health services, higher prevalence of poor mental health illness and rise in structural inequalities in society, and further pressures on our nation following the pandemic and continued cost-of-living crisis, as well as wider factors such as climate change and war and genocide.

Mental Health Act Reform 

It has been immensely disappointing that the Mental Health Act has not been reformed in the last 5 years since the review. We know the Act is outdated and it has been promising to see that all three major parties (Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrats) have committed, in their manifestos, to an early reform of the Mental Health Act if elected — although the Conservatives did not name it explicitly in their manifesto.

Additionally, the Green Party have highlighted its dedication to ensuring that the rights of those grappling with mental health problems are respected, advocating for a legal framework to support all individuals in leading fulfilling lives.

In Wales, Plaid Cymru are also committing towards reform of the Mental Health Act, pledging to better support individuals who are neurodiverse.

Perinatal Mental Health 

The Conservatives have pledged to support women’s health, particularly after childbirth, with improved “access to mental health services for new mums”.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a “transformation of mental health support for those who are pregnant”.

Children’s Mental Health  

Several political parties have acknowledged the crucial importance of prevention and early intervention when it comes to children and young people’s mental health.

The Conservative Party have committed to establishing early support hubs for those aged 11-25 in every local community by 2030 and expanding coverage of mental health support teams from 50% to 100% of schools and colleges in England by 2030.

Similarly, the Labour Party plans to introduce ‘young futures’ hubs across communities to provide accessible mental health services for children and young people, alongside ensuring access to specialist mental health professionals in schools.

The Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have advocated for specialist staff and counsellors in schools, with the Liberal Democrats also highlighting the need for ‘young futures’ hubs to extend open access mental health services to every community. The Liberal Democrats have also committed towards extended children and young people’s mental health services up to the age of 25.

The Liberal Democrats have also called for a statutory duty of care for higher education institutions, and accessible support services, which will enable students to be supported throughout their education.

Employment and Welfare Support 

The Labour Party have pledged to ban exploitative zero-hours contracts which often are detrimental to people’s financial security and mental health.

The Liberal Democrats have committed to giving all employees “a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months for zero hours and agency workers.”

We highlighted the prevalence of unstable zero-hours contracts, calling on the government to address workforce shortages and contract support, in our mental health social care workforce mapping data press release.

The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have said they will scrap the two-child cap. Research has found that the two-child limit, along with the benefit cap (an upper limit on the amount of out-of-work benefits a family can receive) places larger families under a vast amount of pressure which harms parents’ mental health.

The Green Party are also committed towards reform of eligibility tests for welfare benefits like Personal Independence Payment, to make them more inclusive.

Increased Access to Green Spaces 

Being able to have access to nature is vital for maintaining good mental and physical wellbeing, staying active, and reducing anxiety.

The Conservative Party have said they will aim to ensure “everyone to have access to nature within 15 minutes’ walk of where they live,” and the Labour Party have committed to getting more children active and improving access to nature.

The Liberal Democrats have said they will aim to increase the amount of access to green spaces.

The Green Party have pledged to extend people’s access to green space and waterways close to where they live, with a new English Right to Roam Act.


The Labour Party have emphasised the critical need to enhance the mental health workforce by committing to recruit 8,500 additional staff for mental health services.

In contrast, the Conservative Party focuses on improving working conditions for all NHS staff and pledges to increase the recruitment of doctors and nurses without specifically addressing mental health workforce capacity.

The Liberal Democrats advocate for expanding healthcare staffing, particularly by increasing the number of full-time GPs.

Meanwhile, the Green Party proposes increasing NHS staff budgets to better align with the skills of the healthcare workforce.

Mental Health Services

In efforts to improve mental health services, the Conservative Party have outlined several key initiatives. They intend to expand NHS Talking Therapies by 50%, aiming to reach more individuals in need of psychological support. Additionally, they plan to significantly increase the capacity of Individual Placement and Support for Severe Mental Illness, adding 140,000 places to better assist those with acute mental health challenges. Furthermore, they propose passing new legislation in the upcoming parliamentary session to improve treatment and support for people with severe mental health needs. Alongside these commitments, the Conservatives also aim to modernise services for autism and learning disabilities.

The Liberal Democrats have also outlined a comprehensive approach to enhance mental health services with several key initiatives. They propose regular mental health check-ups during vulnerable life stages to prevent mental ill health. They aim to eliminate inappropriate and costly inpatient placements for individuals with learning disabilities and autism, as well as end out-of-area mental health placements. The Liberal Democrats also plan to increase access to clinically effective talking therapies and make prescriptions free on the NHS, for people with long-term mental health challenges. Additionally, they are seeking to establish a statutory, independent mental health commissioner to oversee and advocate for mental health rights. They are also seeking to expand safety investigations into mental health hospitals and enhance suicide prevention training for frontline NHS staff.

The Green Party is committed towards establishing parity with physical health care. They pledge to ensure that evidence-based mental health therapies are accessible to all who need them within 28 days. Additionally, the Greens promise to provide tailored and specific mental health services that meet the needs of diverse communities, including communities of colour, children, adolescents, older people, and LGBTIQA+ communities. They advocate for more accessible and prompt mental health assessments for children and adolescents, facilitated by increased investment in primary care across all communities. Furthermore, the Green Party aims to support neurodivergent children and those with special needs comprehensively, including within the school system, to enable them to lead enriching and fulfilling lives.

To enhance mental health services throughout Wales, Plaid Cymru is dedicated to establishing a wellness service aimed at reallocating resources to focus on preventing illness. Additionally, they are working towards implementing a National Care Service for Wales to ensure that social care is provided free of charge at the point of use.

Social Care

The Conservative Party would like to limit the amount individuals must pay for social care costs, take forward reforms detailed in the ‘People at the Heart of Care’ White Paper, provide local authorities with a multi-year funding settlement to support social care in the upcoming Spending Review.

The Labour Party is also committed towards multiyear funding settlements, they are seeking to create a National Care Service, set up new national standards for adult social care to ensure consistent care across England, prioritise a ‘home-first’ approach, and seek to enhance local partnership efforts between the NHS and the social care sector to improve hospital discharge processes.

The Liberal Democrats aim is to introduce free personal care to cover some of the costs individuals incur for their care. They also plan to establish a National Care Agency to set consistent minimum standards for care across the country. They propose the creation of a cross-party commission to ensure sustainable funding for social care in the long term. They would like to create a new ‘patients’ charter’ to harness lived experience of patients and embed patient voice, partnership and safety standards across health and care settings, which has not been explicitly mentioned in other manifestos. Finally, the Liberal Democrats intend to increase annual spending on social care by £3.7 billion.

For the Green Party investment is front and centre, as they are offering to invest £20 billion annually in social care, and are committed towards providing free personal care for the elderly and disabled, as well as increase carers pay.

Working With the VCSE Mental Health Sector 

Considering the wider social and economic determinants of a person’s mental health, including education, employment, financial security, accommodation, and good access to appropriate health and social care services is crucial in preventing mental ill-health and providing early intervention to individuals presenting with mental health needs.

We strongly believe the VCSE sector should be at the forefront of providing communities with early intervention and prevention support, due to its credibility, connectivity, cultural understanding and sensitivity towards local communities.

We are urging a new government to meaningfully engage with the VCSE sector and actively learn and implement recommendations emerging from the VCSE sector’s research into the root causes of mental ill health.

All political parties must commit to addressing the root causes of mental ill health, investing in the mental health workforce and VCSE sector sustainably, and fixing inequalities in the mental health system. We urge whoever forms the next government to make mental health a priority so that together we can achieve our vision of Better Mental Health for Everyone.

Common Themes across all Manifestos: 

  1. Expansion of Workforce:  Most parties emphasise increasing the health and social workforce with the Labour Party explicitly highlighting the need to increase the number of mental health professionals
  2. Early Intervention Support for Children and Young People: Most parties highlight the importance of prevention and early intervention, with several parties proposing placing mental health professionals in schools, sixth forms and other educational settings. Initiatives such as early support hubs and walk-in centres for young people are also highlighted in manifestos.
  3. Legislative Reform: Most parties emphasise the importance of reforming or modernising mental health legislation to provide better rights and support for people with mental ill health.
  4. Addressing Social Determinants: Some parties have also highlighted some of the root causes of mental ill health, such as socio-economic inequalities like access to poor housing conditions, low air quality and poverty.


  1. Funding Levels: None of the major parties have committed to funding levels sufficient to meet the growing demand for mental health services​, although the Green Party has committed to funding for mental health care to ensure parity with physical health.
  2. Comprehensive Plans: Neither of the two biggest parties has committed to a cross-government mental health plan, which is essential for addressing the challenges faced in society and in the sector holistically​.