The Stigma around mental health must be broken

Please click HERE for my latest column in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald (1st October 2015)
Gazette & Herald Column 1 October 2015
We all want our children and young people to have the opportunity to achieve and develop their skills to set them up for their adult lives. Our childhood shapes our adult lives and many mental health conditions in adulthood show their first signs when we are children. Left untreated these conditions can develop into serious, often life-long, mental health problems.

I recently met with Chippenham based Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership who look after a lot of NHS mental health services in our county. They have a very difficult job, in challenging and pressured circumstances, but have excellent staff who are dedicated to supporting local people.

Mental health is a subject very close to my heart as I have a close family member who has an eating disorder and a good friend with depression. These are very painful, sometimes devastating conditions to live with as all too often there is a stigma around mental health that we must do more to break.

It is good news that mental health now has parity with physical health within the NHS but there is still more to do. Too often, children and young people’s mental health is not given the attention it needs. The last Government made good progress but I believe it is unacceptable that not every child gets support when and where they need it.

This summer I welcomed the news that Wiltshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group will receive an extra £854,000 a year for the next five years. This money will be used for improving early intervention to help reduce the numbers of young people who carry adolescent mental health issues into adulthood.

Anyone who works in schools or with young people knows that funding isn’t everything – but it certainly helps, a lot. We need to change the terms in which we talk about mental health. Much more focus needs to be on prevention of mental ill health, tackling early symptoms and improving recovery.

Locally Wiltshire Mind, based in Melksham, an independent mental health charity do great work providing support and friendship for people diagnosed, labelled and treated as mentally ill. For more information visit wiltshiremind.co.uk.

I have upcoming surgeries in Holt, Bradford on Avon, Lacock, Hilperton, Chippenham, Corsham and Melksham. If you would like to make an appointment email michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or call 01249 704465