You may have been contacted recently by Mind on their “Life Support” campaign to ensure advice and support services for people with mental health needs are protected. A draft reply is below that you may want to use.
Thank you for writing to me on the very important subject of ensuring people who need local mental health services get help and support across a range of local services. And thank you for attaching a copy of the Mind briefing. As a Liberal Democrat, I take the subject very seriously indeed.
[IF YOU ARE CAMPAIGNING ON A LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE ISSUE – EG IF YOU HAVE TABLED A MOTION TO HELP PROTECT ADVICE/SUPPORT SERVICES IN YOUR LOCAL AREA MENTION IT HERE]
While local authorities have been in a difficult position financially, I agree that there is much that can be done to ensure that people with mental health problems can access the range of services provided by a local authority and its partner organisations, and get advice and help when they need it. [AGAIN GIVE ANY LOCAL EXAMPLES HERE].
I am also proud that the Liberal Democrats worked hard in changing attitudes towards mental health during the previous government. With leadership from the then Lib Dem Minister of State for Community and Social Care and current health spokesperson, Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrats ensured that the previous Government introduced ‘parity of esteem’ for the first time in the NHS – putting mental health on an equal footing with physical health.
Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, the first ever waiting time standards for mental health patients were introduced and additional funding for services for young people was secured. Access to talking therapies was trebled from around 300,000 people in 2010 up to 900,000 in 2015. The Time to Change campaign allocated £16 million towards tackling stigma and discrimination. Lib Dems fought to the first ever maximum waiting time standards in mental health to be introduced and halved the number of people ending up in police cells during a mental health crisis, set aside funding for eating disorders with the aim of introducing maximum waiting times, and secured an extra £1.25 billion funding for children and young people’s mental health services.
But there is also much to be done as many people still don’t get the care and support they need. So, last November, Norman Lamb MP launched a cross-party campaign ‘Equality for Mental Health’ to ensure mental health stays firmly on the Government’s agenda. The campaigncalled on the Conservative Government to commit to additional ring-fenced funding for mental healthcare in the 2015 Spending Review as a step towards stamping out inequality.
So I know that the fight for true equality for people with mental ill health is far from over – including at a local level, where local government budgets are tighter than ever. But it is also very clear that as well as being the right thing to do, providing support and advice locally can save money and further treatment in the longer term.
Norman’s campaign highlights 10 major ongoing concerns in mental healthcare, including the continued lack of access to treatment, long waiting times and shockingly, a 20 year gap in life expectancy between those with mental health problems and the rest of the population. There are 200 leading figures from all walks of life signed up to support the campaign. You can sign up to support the campaign at www.equality4mentalhealth.uk.
The Lib Dems will continue the fight for equality for those suffering mental ill health both nationally and locally. It is simply not good enough for people with mental health problems to be treated as second class citizens. It’s a huge injustice which I am determined to end.