Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor, has welcomed the government’s announcements that it will embark on one of the largest expansions of mental health services in Europe.
This includes recruiting 21,000 new mental health workers to properly integrate mental and physical health services and investing £1.3bn extra to treat an extra 1m people by 2021.
When I was first elected to Parliament 11 years ago, mental health remained largely a taboo subject. One of my first acts was to contribute to a book called ‘The Forgotten’, a collection of policy ideas by Conservative MPs first elected in 2005. I chose to write about mental health, specifically the need to tear down the stigma around depression what deters so many sufferers from seeking treatment.
One of the most heartening trends of the last decade has been a greater awareness of the need to put mental health on parity with physical health alongside greater efforts to break down the stigma that still exists.
As society changes and technology deepens our understanding of the natural world, some curious anachronisms have emerged in our current prescription charge system. Unchanged since 1968, it is in need of reform.
A broad political consensus exists that it is unfair as some long-term conditions qualify people for free prescriptions – like diabetes, for example – whilst others don’t – like schizophrenia.
Mental health is part of the zeitgeist of our times with a focus on raising awareness, reducing stigma and raising funds for projects gathering pace across the UK.
There is also a growing consensus that more needs to be done to understand and assist those in mental distress and I am championing ‘psychological first aid’ training to help facilitate this.
The Windsor MP welcomes the Government’s “revolution” in mental health care as part of a package of new funding and reforms aimed at improving treatment and removing the stigma attached to mental health issues.
The new targeted programs include embedding mental health services in every hospital emergency department, creating 24 hour round-the-clock community care as an alternative to hospitalisation and the provision of extra mental health care for expectant mothers and anorexic teenagers.
The Prime Minister has also called for a “more mature” conversation about mental health and for people to be less embarrassed or fearful to talk to others about mental illnesses and to seek help.
Adam Afriyie, Windsor’s MP, commented:
“This is a fantastic start to the year and a great example of how Conservatives are not only protecting support for people facing mental health challenges but actually boosting it
“You wouldn’t expect to be turned away from the NHS if you had a broken arm and I believe we should adopt the same approach for the millions of people who will experience a mental illness during their lifetime
“The Prime Minister was right to highlight the fact that mental health issues are exacerbated when a sufferer is afraid or unable to talk to someone about it. If we are to be a society that is at ease with itself, the stigma of mental health conditions needs to disappear.”
Note to editors
- Adam Afriyie has a strong background and interest in science, technology and innovation due to his entrepreneurial background in the IT sector and a variety of posts he has held and/or currently holds, including Shadow Minister for Science, President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF) and Chairman of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).
- This press release is based on a speech made by the Prime Minister that can be found here.
- In 2005 Adam Afriyie contributed a chapter about mental health to the book “The Forgotten” about how to tackle the stigma attached to mental health.
- Adam Afriyie has made mental health reform one of his priorities in Parliament due to its impact on social mobility, more of which can be found here.