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Dr Mark Fabien responds to calls for government policies to undergo mental health test

"A greater awareness of mental health and the potential impacts of public policies on it is welcome. However, requiring all new policies to undergo a mental health impact test is an excessively blunt tool to this end. It would create yet more paperwork and compliance hurdles to get things done in a system that is already overburdened with such measures. There are numerous areas of public policy that have little direct bearing on mental health, such as whether the UK should refurbish its nuclear submarines or pay farmers to maintain hedgerows.

Even where mental health is a live issue, like education or welfare, our limited causal understanding of how complex policies interact with complex social, political, and economic systems makes developing a coherent, rigorous, and incisive mental health test difficult. It would likely end up as a ham-fisted tick box rather than a useful corrective to negligent, reckless, or insensitive policymaking. While I am very sympathetic to the sector’s concerns about the government’s latest initiative to punish vulnerable people on welfare, this test would do absolutely nothing to prevent such initiatives as they are politically and rhetorically motivated." Moreover, tying the government’s hands with red tape is not a democratic or intellectually honest way to drive evidence-based policy forward."

Tue 14 May 2024, 09:07 | Tags: Politics, Policy, PIAS