A landmark day for mental health in Parliament
Posted Friday 15 June 2012
The four and a half hour debate yesterday saw four MPs speaking out about their own mental health problems, in what was an emotional first for a parliamentary debate.
Hundreds of people with mental health problems had contacted their MP in the run up to the debate, urging them to speak out about local and national issues.
A wide range of subjects covered during the debate, including
- The need for politicians, the media and the general public to talk more openly about mental health, to break down taboos and to ensure that everyone is able to ask for help when they need it.
- The problems that people face in trying to get help for mental health problems, and the need to invest in more talking therapies, crisis care services and mental health advocates.
- The urgent need to overhaul the Work Capability Assessment so that people who are too unwell to work get the benefits they need.
- Ways in which employers can reduce stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace, and better support employees with mental health problems.
During the debate Croydon MP Gavin Barwell announced that he will be introducing the Mental Health Discrimination Bill into the House of Commons next week, to overturn four pieces of discriminatory mental health legislation. He said,
Currently the law tells you that if you have a mental health problem your contribution to public life isn’t welcome…this has to change.
Health Minister Paul Burstow said that the Government is committed to improving access to mental health services right across the board – from community services to inpatient units – and as part of that will ensure that people with mental health problems can exercise choice and control over their own lives.
Paul Farmer said:
Yesterday four MPs felt able to go public with their own mental health problems. This is considerable step forward in removing the stigma, fear and discrimination that surrounds mental health problems, and Mind commends the Members involved for bravely addressing these issues.
However, it is clear from the content of the debate that whilst mental health services have improved in recent years we still have huge amounts of work to do.
Too many people are being let down by mental health services across the country, and having to put up with second-rate care. The Government has recognised that there can be no health without mental health, and it needs to deliver.
Thank you to everyone who got in touch with their MP ahead of the debate. If you haven’t already done so, why not get in touch and let him/her know what matters to you?
The debate received extensive media coverage on Radio, television and Time to Change was motioned in several national newspapers:
- Daily Mail: Our secret battle about mental illness, by MPs
- Independent: On the psychiatrist’s benches: MPs reveal struggles with depression
- The Guardian: Mental health problems no longer a bar to becoming an MP
- Total Politics: Why I want to change the law on mental health
- Channel 4 News: Charles Walker MP interviewed about his Obsessive compulsive disorder