Both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb have taken note that today is World Mental Health Day. As someone who has had lifelong experience of Anxiety and Depression in varying degrees of intensity,I appreciate the way in which they and Nick Clegg before them fought to get this issue to the forefront. It also greatly aggrieves me that the Scottish government is now light years behind England in mental health provision. We don’t have parity of esteem up here and mental health is as much the Cinderella service as ever it was.
Today is World Mental Health Day. We must recommit ourselves to ending the stigma and work to create parity with physical health.
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) October 10, 2015
Meanwhile, Norman Lamb wrote for the Huffington Post about his mission when he was care minister to improve mental health and remove the discrimination in the NHS:
The truth is that there is outrageous discrimination at the heart of the NHS. If you have suspected cancer you have a right to see a specialist within two weeks – and rightly so. But if you are a teenager with an eating disorder – a condition which can kill – you have no such right. It’s impossible to justify that.
While I am very proud to have introduced the first maximum waiting time standards for mental health – for early intervention in psychosis and for access to psychological therapies – too many people still do not have the right to access treatment on time.
For a whole group of people to be treated differently, simply because of the type of condition they have, is clearly unacceptable.
Hard working and dedicated NHS staff are doing admirable work every day to support their patients, with increasingly stretched resources. If this Government is serious about equality for mental health, the first thing it must do is commit to additional ring-fenced funding in the next spending review.
He also called on the government to make sure that people were not sent miles away from home for treatment:
We must also end the disgraceful practice of routinely sending mental health patients hundreds of miles from home to receive treatment. These ‘out of area placements’ are extremely distressing. It would be unacceptable for any other illness and yet the most recent figures show that one in seven people admitted to hospital to receive mental health treatment end up in a bed out of their home area.
Like any other NHS patient, people with mental ill health should receive care in their community, with their loved ones nearby. I began work to end out of area placements as a Minister, and was told it would be possible to put a stop to this practice. I wanted it ended within a year. But time ran out ahead of the election. I call on the new Government to commit to meeting this timescale.
My mission to achieve equality for those suffering mental ill health is as strong as it ever was. I desperately hope the Health Secretary will continue to build on the progress that was made in the last five years.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings