NSUN statement on the General Election: our hopes

People living with mental ill-health, distress, and trauma can face additional barriers when accessing their voter rights. This is especially true for those detained in mental health settings. This resource from the Centre for Mental Health sets out information on voting and voter registration for people living with mental ill-health, distress, and trauma.

At NSUN, we welcome the announcement of a General Election on the 4th July 2024 while calling for acknowledgement that mental health will and must form a large part of the agenda of the incoming Government. 

Any prospective government will have their hands full tackling widespread and worsening issues, both nationally and internationally, but we desperately need an approach to mental ill-health, distress, and trauma that is rooted in justice, care, and autonomy and led by those with lived experience. We are a long way from this vision, but we know it is possible. 

Here we set out our hopes for a prospective government and the actions needed on mental health.

The present

For many of us, the current provision of mental healthcare in the UK is dire and we find ourselves pushed into distress and despair by the decisions of current and previous governments. When we seek care, many of us find ourselves receiving support that is inappropriate or harmful, and often, no support at all. Things must (and will) change, and it is our hope that any new government will commit fully to improving mental health care.

For the most part, election campaigning so far has seen major political parties commit to increasing the numbers of mental health staff. This is desperately needed, and may go some way to improving waiting list lengths and tackling the effects of austerity on our health service. However, increasing staff numbers alone will not be enough. Similarly, current mainstream focus on waiting lists, staff and bed shortages, and service underfunding does not go far enough. We must also pay attention to the ways in which people are harmed by and within the current mental health system, and the widespread institutional abuse and system failings demonstrated in recent years. Inappropriate and punitive care will not be resolved by solely increasing mental health staff without simultaneously challenging and dismantling poor care within the current system. 

We must take a broader and intersectional view of what is considered mental health “care”, and commit to improving this as part of our action on health. This includes ensuring people have access to safe housing, meaningful employment, humane welfare support, and are able to live in a world free discrimination and violence in its many forms, including genocide and climate collapse.

The future

Here we outline our hopes for a prospective government, identifying the key issues that must be challenged and some road-maps of how we might get there. This is not an exhaustive list, instead reflecting priorities emerging from the issues that NSUN and our members have been working on in recent years.

At NSUN, we believe that a successful government would:

Recognise harms in current mental health systems. This includes: 

Challenge inequalities in mental health care. This includes:

Tackle issues that cause and exacerbate mental ill-health, distress, and trauma. This includes:

  • Rolling back on cuts to welfare support, including scrapping reforms to work capability assessments and protecting Personal Independence Payments for those living with mental ill-health, distress and trauma. In the short term, rolling back on cuts to benefits is essential, but we need a complete reform of our violent and punitive welfare system.
  • Recognising and challenging the impact of austerity and the cost of living crisis, including improving housing security, education, and employment conditions. 
  • Taking a clear stance on inequalities and injustice, including (but not limited to) tackling transphobia, xenophobia, classism, racism, ableism, as well as ‘hostile environment’ policies and practices. 
  • Taking seriously and responding to global issues that affect us all including (but not limited to) genocide and climate change. 

Prioritise lived experience in mental health reform. This includes:

  • A commitment to involving people with lived experience in mental health reform. This includes ensuring that those involved are paid for their time, and moving beyond tokenistic efforts at “co-production” or “involvement”.
  • Full consultation with those who have lived experience on new policy areas, particularly when we disagree with the position of the Government or larger mental health charities. 
  • Ensuring a diversity of third sector voices are meaningfully involved in consultations on mental health reform. This includes funding and listening to smaller, grassroots groups. 
  • Providing grassroots groups the resources to support their communities. This includes examining government funding programmes. 


At NSUN we are committed to a world in which people living with mental ill-health, distress, and trauma are able to live safe and full lives, with support rooted in autonomy, justice, and care. While we have a long way to go, the election is an exciting opportunity to move toward these goals. 

Achieving this vision will take concerted efforts from all of us, including the prospective Government. While the task ahead of us is a big one, we know that it is possible. Our optimism is rooted in hope, but also in the tenacity and care of our membership, who show us over and over that the world we want to see is not only possible, but that it is already here.