Today is World Mental Health Day and later in the week I’ll be speaking at two community events to help break down the stigma associated with discussing our mental health.
However we also need to make sure that we reflect this in the work place, including our public services. We all know that workers in the public sector are under increasing pressure as cuts take place and this can only add to the need to support people in ensuring they have good mental health.
Our Lead Councillor for Health Graeme Hoskin is leading the way on this. On Friday at Health and Wellbeing board, which he chairs and I am part of has signed the council up to the employer pledge from ‘Time to Change’. This requires the council as an employer to have an action plan to support staff at work and to demonstrate true commitment to supporting good mental health for council staff.
Anyone can have mental health problems. In fact given that one in four people experience a mental health problem in any given year the chances are that we all will. We all have a responsibility to break the stigma and it is time to change. That is why I have been so pleased to support the Brighter Berkshire Year of mental health and why celebrations of Older People’s Day, which in Reading took place yesterday, focused on mental wellbeing.
But we shouldn’t forget that this is also a political issue. For example it was shameful on the same day that we signed the time to change pledge to hear that our local mental health hospital, Prospect Park, is under an outrageous level of pressure- with over 100% bed usage on any given day. We also heard that Reading’s new clinic for survivors of the evil practice of Female Genital Mutilation has been refused funding by the government.
We need a national discussion about how we support people to have good mental health and to help people who go through crisis. Labour recognises that we are part of a community, and that we need to cooperate to live good lives. Labour is the party committed to ensuring good mental health and helping people if they go through crisis.
I am determined that mental health will continue be high on the agenda and working together we can make a real difference to help all of us live healthier, happier lives.