Last year the government did something unprecedented in setting out plans to tackle the problems of mental health in the NHS – a document entitled No Health without Mental Health - which demonstrated how intrinsic mental health is going to be in future, for every health strategy and care plan that the Government and the NHS provide to people.
Since then, many people have raised the awareness of this important issue. It also transcends party politics, as we begin the long drawn out General Election campaign.
It is said that on average 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental illness at some point in our lives and yet there is such a negative stigma.
One of the main issues to be targeted in the years to come is waiting times. I get emails from constituents concerning the delay between their initial contact with a GP to any sort of specialist intervention, such as talking therapy or other forms of counselling like online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
This leaves people feeling helpless for months on end, something the government is now determined to put a stop to.
We are challenging the health and social care community to go further and faster to transform the support and care available to people with mental health problems - for both children and adults.
With local government in the lead, the aim is to give mental health, wellbeing promotion and prevention, the long overdue attention it needs and deserves.
I have tried to assist in my own way by attending the World Mental Health Day awareness event in the Queensgate centre with volunteers last autumn
In Peterborough, we are also starting to do our bit to raise awareness around mental health, more specifically dementia, already encouraged by those providing care to those living with the condition.
Like many others, I have supported the concept of our area being a “Dementia Friendly” city.
Our new Dementia Resource Centre opened in York Road in November and will play a vital role in supporting patients and their families, allaying many fears about the onset of dementia, the perception of care homes and the opportunities for respite.
With the government backing an increase in funding for dementia, I will most certainly be working closely with the Peterborough professionals and volunteers to ensure that we develop sustainable projects for 2015 and beyond.
This is exactly what we need for all forms of mental illness going forward: community engagement and support.
Mental health affects us all one way or another.
- Peterborough’s MP writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph