This was the first time I’ve got into so much detail in analysing manifestos. It really is worth your time getting into the specifics of what each party’s vision is & what they’re promising / committed to.
Here’s a run down on the verdicts for each Party, full analysis of each mental health manifesto elsewhere in the blog:
None of the manifestos from the main political parties were perfect, and I wouldn’t have expected them to be. However in terms of the ethos and overall the manifesto that came closest to “getting” the reality of where we are at with mental health and where we need to go, the Social Democrats have come the closest. It recognises the importance of Primary Care, NEPS, research, legislation, adequate, accomodation, neuropsychology & non-A&E crisis options for mental health. It talks about the importance of reaching the 10% aim for overall health budget but gives no indications of how much this would cost.
I’m giving this a slight edge over the Sinn Fein manifesto as it gave a specific commitment to 200m of additional funding. Although while saying that there is no detail in how much any of the commitments would cost and I am doubtful that much of what is proposed could be achieved with just 200m.
It had specific & concrete proposals that if implemented would improve mental health services but as with all manifestos, the devil will be in not only the details (some proposals vague and lacking in detail of how they would be operationalised) and seeing the funding promises being delivered in actual budgets.
In terms of gaps in this manifesto this also did not include a focus on Perinatal Mental Health or the negative impact of Direct Provision on the mental health of those who access it
Overall this manifesto has positive aspirations and is focusing on most of the key principles and factors that would improve mental health services, Some of the proposals as you would expect will need more detailed implementation plans.
Most manifesto’s will be missing some aspects, in this one there was no focus on Perinatal Mental Health, huge existing gaps for people with autism / intellectual disabilities and how their mental health and other additional needs can be met by services so they don’t continue to fall between the gaps, the negative impact of Direct Provision on the mental health of those who access it and the impact of homelessness, poverty and educational barriers. The maifesto also fails to specify overall how much it would allocate in additional funding to mental health services or costings for the proposals they’ve outlined.
Overall pretty disappointing from Fine Gael. The section that focuses on mental health talks about how much extra funding has been allocated to mental health but no specific commitments in that section to how much more (if any) would be allocated to bring it up to the minimum recommended levels of 10% of the health budget. The majority of the manifesto seems to be built upon premises contained in A Vision for Change Refresh that no-one has had sight of yet and no indications of when it might be published. It conveniently ignored that the vast majority of the Youth Mental Health Taskforce recommendations have not been enacted two years later. There are lots of buzz words / sentences that sound good to the casual observer but contain such little specific details that it would be impossible to tie them down to specific operationalised targets to be evaluated against.
There are a number of positive aspirations in the Green Party mental health chapter of their overall manifesto. Quite a few are lacking in detail of how they might be operationalised. Similar criticism to the Sinn Fein mental health manifesto that there are no clear budgetary commitments of how much funding would be required or allocated to make these proposals a reality. The lack of recognition or understanding of the statutory role of Coru and it’s relevance to the regulation of Psychologists when it is fully enacted for Psychologists. It did make some reference to needing to be mindful of the needs of pre and post-natal care for parents but again without any sense of what that might look like. This was one of only two manifestos to mention funding research in mental health which is a plus.
I think this has been a massive own goal by Labour. I’m perplexed how they thought that such a limited mental health aspect of their manifesto would either go unnoticed or how they could justify why it is so limited and so vague. The limitations of it’s content, specificity and content speaks for itself really and doesn’t require much further explanation.