So, it appears there will be a general election on the 8th of June. You might be thinking “why bother?” After all, it often seems politicians don’t care about ordinary people – especially those of us with mental health problems.
But this is precisely why you should vote: the decisions made by politicians affect all of us and voting is one way you can use your voice.
Young people with mental health issues are particularly affected by decisions politicians make about education, welfare and the NHS. The policies adopted by the government will impact your life. The cuts made by the current and previous governments have already affected people with mental illness in negative, sometimes catastrophic, ways. Now is your chance to choose a government whose policies will (hopefully) be better.
You might be thinking “my vote won’t count” but it does.
Every vote cast is counted. You might not vote for the MP who wins, but your vote has still been taken into account. Political parties also receive public funding based on the proportion of votes they get (see here), so your vote will secure financial support for the party for which you vote.
If nothing else, voting gives you the right to complain about the government!
Not voting isn’t protest – it’s apathy.
Some people believe that refusing to engage with the democratic process is a form of protest, but if you don’t register to vote, nobody is aware you are protesting — they just assume you don’t care. If you want to protest by refusing to cast a vote, register to vote, go to the polling station and deliberately deface your ballot. Defaced ballots are counted, so your protest will be acknowledged.
If mental health issues might affect your ability to vote, make contingency plans now.
Choosing to register for a postal vote is one way you could avoid being unable to vote if you are ill on election day. You can ask someone to post your ballot for you if getting out of the house is a struggle.
It can also help to have someone accompany you to the polling station. Ask your family and friends if anyone would be willing to support you in this way.
If you are still unable to vote despite trying to make contingency plans, don’t beat yourself up — it’s just how life goes. You can still complain about the government if you want.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who you will vote for — or whether you will vote at all — register now so that you have the option to vote.
To register to vote, visit: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
For more information on voting, see: https://www.gov.uk/browse/citizenship/voting