Jon Ashworth MP Talks About Mental Health

Jon Ashworth MP – Shadow Secretary of State for Health

In my previous blog I talked about the investment needed in the NHS if people are to be able to access the treatment they need locally, and this is before we consider the non-NHS services that people with mental health issues need.

Before I hosted my first Mental Health Summit in 2013 I brought together people with mental health issues and their carers to listen to what services they needed and wanted.

The key finding of this ‘listening event’ was that clinical and health services alone are not enough when addressing mental health issues. There is a need for social support, whether it be supported housing, drop in facilities, getting out and about and various types of learning or educational activities.

Not only is this issue of social support not a priority in the Government’s pronouncements on mental health, its lack of funding for local authorities is taking effect nationally and here in Leicester. As a local MP over the last few years I have often been approached by voluntary sector organisations as their funding is being reduced or cut completely, but sadly this is the reality of a Tory Government that underfunds local authorities.

Although never a complete substitute for clinical help or social support, everyone should try to look after their own mental health and care for those who suffer from mental health conditions. Last year in Parliament I spoke about my own experiences of growing up with an alcoholic father. I will talk more of this next time, but I was fortunate that my experience with my Dad left me feeling not damaged but determined; others will not have been so lucky.

We can all try to look after our mental health by keeping active, eating well, keeping in touch with people and asking for help, but most importantly of all we should not be afraid to talk about our feelings. Talking to one another about how we feel is not a sign of weakness, but rather we are taking charge of our wellbeing and doing what we can to stay healthy.