Andrea’s view on mental health provision

Poor mental health is something that could hit any one of us, at any time. 

Many fellow members have spoken openly about their own struggles with mental health and should be commended on doing so. 

I do not have much of my own personal story to contribute to this particular debate. 

Like many of us I have had my ups and downs, and even been to consult my GP on occasions where I have been concerned. But I have never come to a point where I have felt I have needed medical treatment. 

It is a well-known fact that mental health has often not held the same weight as physical health in the NHS.

People were less aware of the risks, the symptoms, and stigma would put people off seeking treatment.

If we were having this debate five or six years ago, I would agree that more needs to be done to address this lack of parity.

But the fact of the matter is this Government and the one before it has taken huge strides in improving mental health provision and working to reduce the stigma around mental health.

This work has not come just from our benches. Many of our colleagues in the Liberal Democrats, and I give particular mention to Norman Lamb, are well deserving of praise for their work during the coalition years, before I was a Member of this House. 

And this Government is taking that work and pushing ahead with significant reforms to improve our mental health services. 

Mandatory waiting time standards for mental health.

A requirement that clinical commissioning groups should increase funding on their mental health services.

An increase in the overall mental health budget to £11.7 billion; not just for adults, but also for young people, who are often so at risk in the modern world, where their lives are more open than ever before.

The Crisis care concordat helping those when they need it most, and a £1.5 million pound suicide prevention scheme.

And this goes further than just the numbers and services specialising in mental health. 

As colleagues may know by now, patient safety is a major area of focus. 

We can only promote the safest patient care by promoting a good understanding of mental health issues across the NHS, and making sure that people are aware of the potential risks and warning signs of someone struggling with mental health.

On this note the Government has committed to training NHS frontline staff in recognising online victimisation of young people, a key way of identifying this sort of problem early on and ensuring that young people, who are so often unwilling to speak out, getting the care and help they so desperately need.

We must also tackle the stigma that is so often attached to admitting poor mental health.

Only by challenging established attitudes and educating people about the risks can we truly combat this.

This is why I am proud that the Government has committed £600,000 to fighting this stigma, and I’m delighted to see that discussions on mental health are becoming so much more open than they ever have been.

Good mental health is so key to every aspect of our modern lives, where an ‘always-on’ ethos and modern technology can often push people to the limits of their tolerance.

It is so easy to get caught up in work, social life, relationships, and forget to take care of your own mental wellbeing.

This Government is working hard to ensure that people are not only educated about mental health, but that the services are they when they need them.