An answer to a parliamentary question has revealed that the government is on course to miss their mental health staff recruitment target by 50%.
With 31% of people with Parkinson’s experiencing worsening anxiety during lockdown, the need to expand the mental health workforce is greater than ever.
We know that prior to the pandemic people with Parkinson’s were waiting months and in some cases years to see a mental health professional.
Government targets missed
Launched in 2017, a target of employing an additional 19,000 mental health staff by 2021 formed part of the Stepping forward to 2020/21: The mental health workforce plan for England .
Mary Glindon MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Parkinson’s tabled a parliamentary question. The answer showed that the mental health workforce has only increased by 9,500. This is 50% short of the government's own target.
We believe that the mental health workforce in England needs to grow to meet the increasing mental health support needs people with Parkinson's have. Including specialist mental health staff such as neuropsychologists and neuropsychiatrists who understand the link between the mental and physical health aspects of Parkinson’s.
Responding to this, Sam Freeman Carney, Senior Policy Adviser for mental health at Parkinson’s UK said;
“It is deeply concerning that prior to the coronavirus pandemic the Government had only recruited half of its original target to build the mental health workforce.
“During lockdown many people with Parkinson’s have reported that their health has deteriorated and 31% of respondents to our survey have experienced their anxiety worsening.
"Without an adequate mental health workforce, we are at risk of placing avoidable additional pressures on other areas of the NHS.
"The government must urgently step up its recruitment into the mental health workforce to avoid a catastrophic staffing crisis, as currently the NHS will be unable to meet the demand, which is only likely to increase in the coming months.”
You can find out more about mental health symptoms and Parkinson's here.
If you're experiencing mental health symptoms talk to your healthcare professional. You can also get support and advice on mental health through our helpline on 0808 800 0303, and from other organisations such as Mind and Samaritans.
Get involved in our campaigns for improving mental health services for people with Parkinson’s.
Managing your mental health
As lockdown restrictions ease people may feel worried or anxious. Read tips and ideas from clinical psychologists Andrew Paget and Jennifer Foley, on looking after your mental wellbeing