Kent Messenger Column - 04-01-18
Supporting and guiding people at times of great need is a key aspect of my role as a Constituency MP. Some of the most difficult and moving circumstances that I encounter involve those who are affected by mental ill-health.
1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental illness in our lifetimes. It affects people of all ages, genders, religions, races and professions, often with serious collateral impact upon friends, family and workplace colleagues.
Thankfully, in recent years, there has been increased awareness and acceptance of the presence of mental health conditions. The campaign led by the 'Heads Together' charity, which encourages people to talk about the difficulty they experience (and, crucially, calls upon others to listen) was especially powerful. It proved that 80% of people who have had a conversation about their mental health found it helpful; certainly something for us all to bear in mind.
I am also pleased that the Government have made it a priority to tackle mental illness. Increased funding, a raising of expected standards and reform to the Mental Health Act have, encouragingly, all been promised and are steps in the right direction. This is, however, a significant and ongoing challenge and we cannot be complacent. That is why I maintain regular contact with our local NHS mental health professionals in Maidstone & The Weald, to help me understand the challenges they face and feed this back to Government.
January can be an especially difficult time for those who experience mental illness, it is worth remembering that in addition to the NHS there are also outstanding charitable organisations who stand ready to provide sensitive and expert support to those facing difficulty, such as the excellent team at Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind.
If you, or someone close to you, is struggling then please do not suffer in silence; there are people across our community who are ready to listen, support, guide and care.
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