G7 exclusive: Boris Johnson to push for mental health to be on final communique
Boris Johnson is set to push G7 leaders to include a statement on making mental health a priority during the Covid recovery in the summit’s final communique.
The Prime Minister told a collection of political pressure groups that he “pretty much promises” it will be in there.
Johnson told delegates from the Youth G7 UK in a 10-minute meeting yesterday that it was “because of what young people had been saying to him” that he would push for mental health to be in the communique.
It will likely include statements on the post-Covid recovery, distributing vaccines to poorer countries and tackling climate change.
Communiques are a joint statement that are signed by G7 leaders at the end of summits, setting out a summary of what has been worked, along with a summary of future ambitions.
Johnson said today in his official opening statement at the Cornwall summit that G7 leaders should aim to be “building back greener and building back fairer and building back more equal and…perhaps in a more feminine way”.
Evie Aspinall, the Youth G7 UK head delegate, told City A.M. that Johnson said to her yesterday that mental health would likely be added to the list of ways to build back better.
“One of the big things he pushed, and pretty much promised us, was around mental health – that was one of our big issues,” she said.
“He said ‘I pretty much promise’ it’s on [the communique], so we’re 90 per cent sure it’s on there.
“He said it was because of what young people had been saying to him.”
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in May showed that rates of depression had doubled since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
The data showed young people, women, clinically vulnerable adults, disabled people and those living in the most economically deprived areas of England were the worst affected.
Former Tory health minister Seema Kennedy wrote in the i recently that “to truly level up left behind communities unless we also tackle the mental health inequalities”, referencing Johnson’s agenda to economically “level up” the Midlands and the North.
When asked about whether mental health would be on the communique, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “I’m not going to predict what will be in the final communique, but it is a really important issue for the Prime Minister.
“We realise the impact the pandemic has had on mental health, particularly on young people.”
Johnson is set to have a series of bilateral meetings tomorrow at the G7 summit with French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German chancellor Angela Merkel.
The UK’s row with the EU over how to implement the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol is likely to be high on the agenda at these meetings.