I intended the previous mental health article on this website to be my last but, having been amazed by the people sharing personal and moving experiences in the comments section, I felt compelled to add something more.
First, I wish to acknowledge that, while I have often felt that my world is crashing down around me during the last few months, my own problems pale into insignificance compared to those which have been shared on this website. It takes a remarkable amount of bravery to share these in a public forum – bravery which I doubt I would be capable of.
During my first session of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) yesterday, the therapist mentioned, on a number of occasions, how awareness of mental health and challenging the stigma attached to it has rarely been at a greater level.
This is signified by the fact that Nick Clegg has recently called for mental health patients to be given a greater say in how their illness is treated – something which is of huge importance, given how you can sometimes feel that your GP is playing it ‘by the book’ and is not really engaging in what you are telling them or the pain you are going through.
I was very comforted by the care and attention to detail which was shown by the NHS staff during my CBT session, and by the willingness of others to share their own traumatic experiences with complete strangers. It is clear that people are willing to talk about this and defy the stigma. This demonstrates why Lib Dem members and activists should be telling people about the achievements of Norman Lamb and Nick Clegg and why improving mental health provision is one of the achievements in government which the party should be most proud of.
However, this is not something people will know about unless they are told, told and told again. Given that the economic conditions are likely to remain gloomy for some time and that many people will continue to struggle to find work – a significant cause of mental illness – it is clear that this can be a leading and positive issue for Lib Dems to campaign on going into next May’s County Council elections and the 2015 general election.
I do not know in what state my own health will be in by 2015 and I am still very fearful about the future, but I can only hope that a part,y which is fundamentally a campaigning party, will make sure as many people as possible will know about and understand the difference Lib Dems in government are making to their lives and to the lives of the people they care about.
Remember everyone has been affected, or knows someone who has been affected, by the ‘black wings’ of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. It is a sad fact that mental health has an enormous potential to tear the lives of good honest people apart – the kinds of people that the Lib Dems can and are standing up for.
* Tim Purkiss is a party member from Somerset and blogs at Nation Discussion