The MP for Tooting, who also works as a doctor during parliamentary recesses, reiterated calls for a Labour government to reform the Mental Health Act and the government’s suicide prevention strategy.
The British Medical Association, the trade union representing doctors, said it was “disappointing” the post was being scrapped.
“It’s disappointing to learn that there won’t be a cabinet position for mental health in any future labour govt – it’s vital that the issue is still prioritised,” the union said on Twitter.
The government has a specific minister for mental health – Maria Caulfield – but she does not attend cabinet.
Growing waiting times, coupled with the impact of the cost of living crisis, mean all parties should make mental health a top political priority, said Oliver Chantler, head of policy at Mental Health Foundation.
“Every political party needs to put this issue front and centre. All parts of our lives affect our mental health. That’s why we need a cross-government, long-term plan to protect and sustain the public’s mental health,” said Chantler.
“We need to tackle the root causes of poor mental health, including poverty and discrimination, and prevent problems before they occur.
Alan Simpson, a professor of mental health nursing at King’s College London, said it was vital the party focused on mental health.
“I really hope Labour are going to have major focus on mental health services and mental health more widely. It’s never been needed more,” Simpson wrote on Twitter.
Research by the More in Common thinktank, carried out for Rethink Mental Illness, found the issue could be decisive in the next election. Votes in the Red Wall were particularly likely to be shaped by parties’ mental health policies, reported The Times, while a majority of voters blamed the government for failing services.
Brian Dow, deputy chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, told the Big Issue the research highlighted the importance of mental health to voters.
“With the mental health brief possibly now sitting with the secretary of state for health and social care Wes Streeting, today’s research shows the public will be keeping a careful eye on the degree to which mental health is prioritised by the Labour party as it attempts to build its case to form the next government,” Dow said.
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Madders praised Labour’s commitments to reducing waiting times, and introducing mental health support teams, but said plans to help young people’s mental health needed cooperation across government.
“To turn things around for young people will require work across government departments,” he said.
“We hope to receive reassurances from the Labour party that this news will not lead to a loss of attention for this growing emergency.”