Column: mental health

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 16th October:

Now, more than ever before, it is important that we look after our own mental health and look out for those around us.

Because alongside the impact coronavirus has had on our physical health, is the mental health epidemic which has sadly accompanied this pandemic.

Research from the Centre for Mental Health has suggested that we could see an extra 500,000 people experiencing mental health conditions as a result of COVID-19, while figures from the Royal College of Psychiatrists show that there has been a 43% increase in urgent and emergency appointments for mental health services.

Sadly, the current crisis comes at a time when we have seen ten years of underfunding in mental health services, despite repeated Conservative promises to treat mental and physical health as equally important.

I have challenged the Government on this, asking questions in Parliament on issues including mental health waiting lists, the pressure placed on mental health services by COVID-19, and mental health support for veterans.

Here in Barnsley, I have supported charities and initiatives such as the Samaritans and the MindSpace initiative, which aims to provide mental health support in local schools.

And I will continue to press the Government to give equality to mental and physical health, and proper support for mental health services in our community.

Over the last few months, I have been inspired by the way our community has come together to support each other at this difficult time.

And alongside mental health services, it is important to remember the real difference we can all make in our day-to-day lives – the smallest action or gesture can make the biggest difference to someone who is struggling.

People will discuss their physical health but many are reluctant to talk about mental health. We should all do more to let people know that it is ok to talk about mental health.

Last weekend, we marked World Mental Health Day.

The theme this year was “Do one thing" to support your own or someone else’s mental health.

So, whether it’s checking on your neighbour, making time for yourself, or taking the first steps to seeking support, make time to do one thing to support your mental health and those around you.

If you are struggling and feel you need to seek support, please do remember that you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Mind on 0300 123 3393.

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  • Stephanie Peacock
    published this page in Coronavirus 2020-10-16 14:03:28 +0100