WG Column | Mental Health Awareness Week.

As many of you will be aware, last week was Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May).

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, MHAW was set up 17 years ago with the aim to raise awareness of people suffering with their mental health in silence.

MHAW is a welcome opportunity to begin conversations about the importance of looking after our mental health, and a welcome opportunity to change the way we approach our own, and our loved ones, mental health.

The focus of this year’s MHAW was stress.

The Mental Health Foundation say that stress is a key factor in many mental health issues. A recent study showed that 85 per cent of UK adults regularly experience stress, and over a third felt stressed for at least one full day per week.

Last week, I attended a parliamentary event, hosted by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, which encouraged MPs to tackle stress in the work place, and highlighted the important work of Occupational Therapists in promoting good Mental Health.

However, whilst events like MHAW are extremely important in raising awareness, and beginning conversations; this must be coupled with commitments to provide the funding and infrastructure needed to provide support to those suffering with their mental health.

Waiting times are a key area of concern when it comes to Mental Health Services. Indeed, earlier this year, a report from the British Medical Association (BMA) found that patients with serious mental health issues faced waiting times of up to two years for specialist support in some areas of the country.

This is simply not good enough.

Currently, Childline do not have the capacity to respond to 1 in every 4 of the young people who are brave enough to reach out to them for support; which is why last week I signed a cross party letter from the NSPCC urging the Government to increase funding for volunteer training and development of online services.

It was wonderful to see so much support for Mental Health Awareness, in Parliament and beyond, over the past week; but support must be turned into concrete action.

Appropriate levels of funding must be ringfenced and swift and affordable support must be accessible to everyone who needs it. Only then we will be truly be able to address the chronic mental health crisis that our country is facing.

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