Labour candidates who were defeated at the general election should consider calling the Samaritans if they feel stressed or depressed, they have been told in an email from the party.

The communication – sent more than six weeks after the poll – commiserates with failed runners and thanks them for standing. 

But it has been criticised after it also referred them to mental health charity Mind and the NHS 111 phone line, as well as the Samaritans, if they felt “at risk of immediate harm”.

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Because the communication comes a full month and a half after the party’s historic defeat, some have suggested that if candidates had, indeed, been “at risk of immediate harm”, the email may have been a touch too late.

Others have pointed out that its apparent desire to show a concern is somewhat undermined by the opening address: “Dear 2019 General Election Candidate”.

Dr Paul Williams, who was defeated in Stockton South after being MP for the area between 2017-19, said he himself did not receive the letter, which appears to have only been sent to candidates who had not previously been MPs.

But he said: “It’s right that the party recognises it has a duty of care but that should have been displayed by contacting people immediately after the election – not six weeks later.”

He told The Independent: “I have been surprised myself that there has been such little contact in the aftermath. There were very many kind colleagues who did reach out but that was done on an individual level rather than an institutional one, and I would say the party has to improve at this.”

Another candidate who did not want to be named was less diplomatic.

“I see what they were trying to do but it’s bang out or order,” he said. “It’s a joke. If it was meant to come across as caring, it feels the exact opposite. If anything, this will make some people feel more stressed out – about the state of the party.”

The email largely deals with post-election administration, including spending returns, office closures and offering the chance to participate in a consultation to understand the defeat.

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“The lessons you learned from your campaigns locally will be invaluable to the party going forward,” it says.

But it then goes on: “Elections are stressful and being a candidate in a general election can bring even greater pressure on you and your family. There are a number of services available free of charge that can help if you are still experiencing any symptoms of stress.”

It also lists Citizens Advice and GP services as potential places to help – but it does not offer an in-house number for helping deal with such potential issues.

Supporters online appeared as confused by the letter as the recipients.

“Presumably,” noted one on Twitter, “voters who would like a decent Labour Party to vote for should also call Samaritans.”

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