We’re pleased to see the Labour Party announce a series of new policies which closely reflect our campaign messages on provision of paid roles for counsellors and psychotherapists to support NHS and care workers in England.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour’s Shadow Mental Health Minister, has called for a shake-up of mental health support to ensure that 3.1 million NHS and care workers get fully funded fast-tracked help and advice.
It followed a positive meeting we had with Dr Allin-Khan two weeks ago where she confirmed Labour's support for our campaign and her willingness to champion our proposals.
Labour's policy is for a new four-stage Care for Carers package to cover all NHS and social care staff in England, including contracted workers such as porters, cleaners and support staff who are doing vital and often distressing work during the pandemic and are more likely to be low paid and on insecure contracts and do not have access to psychological support.
The package, staffed by paid professional therapists, includes:
- A new national hotline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Follow-up support, including specialist assessments and referrals
- including psychotherapy, group therapy and telephone therapies
- Follow-up and sign-posted to appropriate external services, such as alcohol and addiction services
Current support available does not cover private sector staff doing NHS and social care work, and there are long waiting lists and significant regional variations.
The current Covid-19 support hotline offers emotional support and signposting, but does not provide psychological therapies.
Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead, who met with Dr Allin-Khan, said: “We’re pleased to see Labour's welcomed commitment to provide psychological therapies to health and care staff on the frontline of this pandemic, which is a key feature of our own Covid 19 campaign.
"In our discussions with Dr Allin-Khan, we emphasised the need for Government to provide additional paid psychological support to enable our members to help support key workers during these challenging times. We hope Government look favourably on these proposals."
Dr Allin-Khan said: “Many NHS and social care staff have been scared of going to work, and they have lost patients and colleagues. It’s been heart-breaking to witness the toll this virus has taken on staff mental health.
“Current support is not good enough, and without a tailored, fast-tracked service for staff who have faced death and despair every day for more than three months, our frontline heroes will continue to be failed.
“We need to care for our carers. It is time for the Government to give back to those who have sacrificed so much to keep our loved ones safe. Unless our staff are protected, they cannot continue their vital work of keeping us all safe.”
Our campaign has established a coalition of professional bodies, service providers, trainers and individual therapists to collaborate on maximising the role of counselling and psychotherapy in supporting the nation through the coronavirus crisis.
You can help further strengthen our hand by taking an active role in the campaign by writing to your Member of Parliament or devolved representatives, using our online letter tool.
We all have our individual story to tell about how the pandemic is impacting mental health and counselling provision locally, adding a personal message will help ensure that MPs understand how this is affecting their communities and gain support and recognition for the role you, as counsellors and psychotherapists, can play in helping the country rebuild.