Around the time of Charles Kennedy’s death I spent a lot of time talking to his Lib Dem colleague, Norman Lamb. I didn’t know him very well but had always felt, when he was a health minister, that he and Nick Clegg got mental health on the coalition agenda in a way that would not have happened had the Tories been left to their own devices.
So once his unsuccessful leadership campaign was out of the way, we started a discussion which led, a few weeks ago, to the idea of a cross-party, cross-society campaign aimed at persuading the government to do more for mental health in the upcoming spending review. To make sure this was not easily dismissed as just another Lib-Lab call for more spending, we felt it important to have a Tory politician on board from the off. I had been aware that Andrew Mitchell has his own interest in and understanding of mental health, having at one point being treated for depression, and he agreed immediately to join us.
And that has been the story concerning pretty much everyone the three of us have since approached for support. In a matter of a few weeks we have gathered a pretty impressive collection of names lending their support to the call. Politicians of all parties, religious leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, senior military figures, leaders in sport, business, arts and culture – the depth and breadth of the support has been remarkable.
I hope and believe it means that we are reaching a tipping point in terms of people’s interest in, awareness of, and desire to end the injustice of inferior treatment for mental illness. If we had been doing this campaign even a few years ago, I think we would have struggled to get the kind of names you can see below.
My worry is that though understanding and awareness are improving, services are not. There is a real danger that the Tories are allowing mental health to slip down the agenda and cuts are happening piecemeal all over the country. They talk the talk – David Cameron did so again at his party conference, and has also welcomed our campaign today – but if they are serious there has to be more investment in mental health services. I think the reason so many business people and a clutch of former Tory health secretaries signed up so readily is because they realise that investment now can lead to improvements for NHS budgets and the economy down the track.
Five pleas if I may. Log on to www.Equality4MentalHealth.uk Read the statement setting out the argument we are making and the ten areas of concern. Study the names who are supporting our call for more investment. Then add your own. And spread the word, using the hashtag #Equality4MentalHealth where appropriate.
Mental health is an issue whose time has come. The public are ahead of most of the politicians on this. But the pressure has to be maintained.
iam so pleasd you r doing ur campaine iam a long term suffer with mentel health i was dischargered f rom the nhs cause they sead i had to much time iam still the same just been given meds so i can surfive luv u to answer me and can tell u how this works
Alistair I’m watching you on Lorraine. FIRSTLY, thankyou for highlighting mental illness. However, I love in Bicester Oxfordshire the county the Prime Minister resides in, I have no mental illness treatment. I have Bi Polar I have Borderline Personality Disorder I’m aggraphobic. The only therapy I was offered was complex needs in Banbury or Oxford. Which I managed to attend a couple of times at Oxford. But I have Fibromyalgia a chronic physical illness I’ve fought for local therapy and been refused. Yet there is a Mental Health Centre in Bicester. They know I self harm. They know I have suicidal tendencies They’ve had letters from my pain consultant stating my physical illness dictates I have local therapy.
Please highlight the appalling lack of help. You may use my letters if that would help.
72 MALLARDS WAY BICESTER OXFORDSHIRE OX266WT
Given the likelihood of cyber bullies reading this blog I really can’t understand the above address having been offered and even printed in full! 🙁
OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY PRINTED MY ADDRESS luckily I was able to delete it. Thanks Michelle for mentioning it xxxxx
Great to see the stigma is lifting, if you have been there you would not wish it on your worst enemy. Alastair it has made you a more empathetic leader and now to the gist of my comment this is my contribution to the battle
We are writing to you about our project ‘The Black Dawg’ which is an illustrated poem about depression and hope.
We are Louis McIntosh, the writer, and Kathryn Hockey, the illustrator, and we have both suffered with depression.
We plan to publish the finished project as a picture book with funds raised on Kickstarter and are in the early stages of market research regarding potential publishers and printing costs, people with first or second hand experience of depression, mental health charities and other contacts in the mental health sector.
In the coming weeks we will make a promotional pack containing excerpts of the text and artwork along with information about our motives and inspirations. We will then send it, by good old fashioned snail mail, to people who are willing to offer feedback.
Might you be interested in receiving a promo pack? If so who should we send it too?
And are there any other people who you think would be interested in our project?
With thanks and best wishes,
Louis McIntosh and Kathryn Hockey
Recent experiences of mental health services have highlighted the disparity between the treatment of physical and mental health.
In my experience, apart from insufficient clinical resources, there is poor communication between the NHS and local authority services. Where care moves from institution to community communication needs to be much slicker. We read about bed blocking relating to general hospitals. I suspect the issues are worse for mental health services. Patients will stay in the system unless all of the issues, well documented in publicity leaflets displayed in mental health units, are brought together. These are issues relating to housing, employment and family relationships.
I have observed that patients in mental health units are treated badly with poor support and insufficient care. I have seen clinical care being overshadowed by bureaucratic rules; a patient transferred from one hospital to another just because of the location of his last registered GP. Following this diagnoses, treatments and care plans needed to be re-addressed; connections with outside agencies rebuilt.
Frankly the system is a mess.
I’m having a job with this one.
Equality for mental health equates to its equality with cancer or to help for Diabetes or RTA victims?
How can it possibly do so if we take out the emotion and look just at the qualities of the input required and the rights or reasonableness of the suffering individual to demand priority help from others when most need it from within?
Yes, accessing help from within needs training, learning how to but needing your growth to be removed or your heart re-started after a shock of some kind is an expensive something else entirely.
Equality equates to expenditure?
I think equality for mental health sufferers depends a lot more on self-help than it does on whatever others can do.
That self-help takes training and time and patience, I’m not sure it can ever receive the same investment as drastic physical conditions where intervention is just more urgent and has a more readable payback.
If you needed a lump removed from your brain would you want to hear that someone else needed counselling?
Heartless, me? Maybe.
I don’t think your point is crazy Michelle, many would share it. Could I just add some things though:
1. People die from mental health problems too, but I don’t have the figures to know how many, how it compares to cancer etc for people of similar ages.
2. I suspect the most expensive part of treatment for either physical or non-physical diseases is the wages of the doctors, nurses and admin staff required to carry out treatment, which wouldn’t differ that much between the two. Even in terms of buildings, drugs etc don’t think there would be much difference. The only difference would be in the various machines that are needed to treat physical things but I wonder what percentage they amount to?
Hi, seeing this one belatedly. Yes re the suicide thing (and as Gillian has posted elsewhere, the rate among men, which has always been higher than among women is growing ever more, proving more care and support is essential but men are less likely to admit needing it, whereas few would resist physical treatment) …… inhale.
I don’t watch TV before late evening but have read about daytime’s Victoria Derbyshire’s life-saving op from which she returned to work within weeks, proving the value/payback of physical interventions. The same outcome with psychological ones just isn’t demonstrable. They depend so much more on the patient’s self-help and confidence …… counter-intuitive.
Lost a bit of the last one. Needed to show that effective help can be given to (even imposed on) a sufferer of physical problems but it can’t be with someone who is resistant for whatever reason.
Wow ambassador! You are spoiling us, with so many new threads. I will answer tomorrow, as if it ever comes.
My new poem, for children being brought up by lost parents…. with suitable vid I did, for Halloween too, maybe…
when you are a child….
wanting to eat…
but are afraid to..
late adolescence due…
the fight still…
not want to say….
try papering over cracks…
leave him to God feelings….
I wrote about the increasing problem of male suicide on this site earlier this year, after it was brought to my attention elsewhere by another poster of my acquaintance. (Thanks Nico).
I think I may have also mentioned at the time that a couple of my friends had ended their own lives. Neither of them seemed to be a suicidal type of person, whatever that is.
Men are better than women at concealing their problems and feelings.
If female suicide was on the increase we’d be hearing about it all day and every day.
Telegraph has quite a good piece on the subject. This is a real and worrying problem.
Must test anyone’s mind, let alone in the 1980s… We are still here though, for now…..
Fair play, even the 3 names you mention are obviously balanced cross the labour, lib dems and tories, left, right and centre, and at least one big beast each (sounds like more). Hope it goes well.
I was already starting to think, following Cameron’s speech and all the trailing of this issue from his buddies in the know, that this was almost at tipping point, but it still might need Alastair and co to actually tip it.
I await to see the response of this group, and also Alastair personally, to Ken Livingstone’s depression rant.
I also commend to anyone who hasn’t read it, the brilliant article in the Times by Oliver Kamm on the matter.
No publicity is bad publicity. Perhaps that is what Ken’s intentions were? Reverse psychology? Given half a chance and Trump will help out too, no doubt…