Two weeks ago representatives of the mental health charity MIND came to parliament to launch their 2015 manifesto. Their 10 "Voices of Mind" also made the journey to Westminster to raise awareness of mental health issues, which are estimated to affect 1/4 people every year.
The key issues raised were ones of funding, access to support services and crucially increasing awareness of challenges faced by sufferers. Stigma is a serious issue facing those suffering from mental health problems. MIND are aiming to build on their "Time to Change" campaign which used a variety of different routes to "impact public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health issues".
I have written to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to raise the issue and add my voice to those in support of the MIND manifesto. I have included below a link to the MIND website together with the 6 key asks they have made of the government: http://www.mind.org.uk/
• Reduce mental health stigma and discrimination and continue to support the Time to Change campaign
• Mandate the NHS in England to offer talking therapies to everyone who needs them within 28 days of referral
• Ensure everyone gets safe, speedy and accessible crisis care whenever they need it, no matter where they turn
• Transform the support for people who are not working because of their mental health and create a system that really helps them to overcome the barriers they face
• Increase the overall NHS mental health budget by a minimum of 10 per cent in real terms over five years
• Implement a national strategy that helps everyone to take care of their mental wellbeing
Some of these issues are capable of being addressed easier than others, but all are genuinely important goals. As with all campaigns, the longest journey starts with the shortest step and this is a campaign well worth supporting. I was stuck in the House of Commons Chamber when the MIND team came to Westminster but they met my staff; and I know that the efforts of the local representatives in the North East are outstanding.