One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in our lives.
For many years there was little discussion about mental health issues. Unlike a physical illness, there were rarely any visible signs.
Thank goodness attitudes are changing, and this is helped when influential people or those in the public spotlight talk about their struggles with mental health issues. Their stories raise awareness and understanding for those with mental health issues.
In recent time, wealthy, powerful and influential people like Stephen Fry and Alastair Campbell have talked about their mental health issues. Stephen spoke movingly about a suicide attempt, and the rollercoaster ride of emotion you get when you read Alastair’s diaries gives a real insight into his struggles on a day to day with Mental Health.
Closer to home, my constituent and Liberal Democrat peer, Lord David Alliance, recently talked publically for the first time about his acute depression despite running one of the largest textile businesses in the world, employing 70,000 people and with a turnover of £2.5 billion per year.
Mental health cannot, and should not be ignored or stigmatised. It should be taken as seriously as physical health. I am really proud that the Liberal Democrats have taken a lead on this in Government.
Last October Nick Clegg announced that, from this April, mental health conditions would be brought into line with other NHS services with the introduction of the first ever waiting time standards. How could it be right that you would know how long you had to wait for a hip replacement but someone with a debilitating mental health condition had no clarity about when they will get help?
Moving forward, the Liberal Democrats are promising to give patients the same choices whether they have a physical or mental illness as part of their £8bn boost to the NHS.
But just as important as the treatment, is the need to change attitudes. We would fund the “Time to Change” campaign, which challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. It is time to change attitudes to mental health, and people like Stephen Fry, Alastair Campbell and David Alliance do society a huge favour by being honest about their struggles with their mental health.