This week is mental health awareness week, a national week where we raise awareness of mental health and look at how we can improve support for people right across the country.
I have made no secret of my own struggles with mental ill-health. I suffer from depression, and at certain periods this has made it tremendously difficult to get out bed in the morning, let alone do my job and tackle the day to day responsibilities of adult life.
As a Member of Parliament, I have been chosen to represent people right across Tameside. That representation means speaking out about things like mental ill-health, and letting people know that there is absolutely no shame in seeking help.
We have made huge strides in eliminating some of the stigma around mental health, but there is still so much more to do. It’s estimated that 1 in 6 adults experience symptoms of a common mental health problem at any given time, and the demand for mental health services is fast outstripping the resources offered to them, with 4.6 million mental health referrals issued in 2022 alone.
So, raising awareness of the problem is vital, but I’m conscious that this must come with action.
That’s why I’ve been so proud to support Labour’s mental health pledge, which would see mental health treatment guaranteed within a month, thousands more mental health professionals recruited, and an open access hub for young people in every community.
This unprecedented investment would be paid for by closing tax loopholes which the Government have allowed to be exploited for far too long.
I have no doubt that this pledge will have a truly transformative impact on people right across Tameside. Mental ill health can be debilitating, and its incredibly important that the infrastructure is in place to support local people.
So, my message for this mental health day is clear; if you’re struggling, please talk to someone. Reach out to friends or family, your GP, or call helplines like the Samaritans (116 123) who will pick up the phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
This week also serves as a reminder to check-in on your loved ones. It costs nothing, but I know from first-hand experience that it can make a world of difference if you’re struggling.
Let’s keep talking, and build a health service where people can access the support they need, when they need it.