Mental health – an issue whose time came at Glasgow

Nick clegg and norman lamb at scottish action mental health photo by dave radcliffe from the liberal democrats flickr streamBased on my circumambulation of the Glasgow conference corridors, there were three highlights concerning mental health:

1. Oxford West and Abingdon conference representative, Matthew Sumption made his maiden speech in the pre-manifesto debate. He’s currently taking time out from university study. But, my goodness me, what a brave young man he is. He basically stood up and said that he is undergoing treatment for mental illness. Now, to make your first conference speech in front of 800 people, and on live TV, is enough of a challenge for anyone, let alone a youngster. But to couple that with a frank admission of your own mental health issues, thereby exploding a long-established taboo, is just awesomely brave. Well done Matthew!

2. At his ministerial Q&A on Sunday, Danny Alexander was asked a question by a representative from the Royal Society of Psychiatrists. This concerned whether a future Liberal Democrat government would increase spending in mental health. “Yes” – came the unequivocal reply. After a pause, Danny embellished this by emphasising the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to further tackling mental illness. I was struck by Danny’s firmness in his answers here. It was quite something, coming as it did from the man in charge of the UK’s piggy bank. In retrospect, his certainty was, no doubt, underpinned by the determination of Nick Clegg to tackle mental illness, as evidenced in the last of my three conference mental health highlights:

3. Nick Clegg’s closing speech contained a long passage on mental health. Nick came across as extremely sincere in his determination to tackle the issue head-on. He announced a new measure of waiting times for mental health problems, with declared limits for particular conditions. This was enormously moving, I thought. It is extremely welcome that a senior politician is exploding the mental health taboo, stressing the needless human tragedy such illnesses cause and, furthermore, committing to tackle the tragedy of suffering and suicide associated with it.

The mental health charity, MIND, have called Nick Clegg’s announcements today “a huge landmark in our campaign for better access to talking therapies”. That is certainly not an exaggeration.


Photo shows Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb at Scottish Action Mental Health during the conference. Photo by Dave Radcliffe from the Liberal Democrat photostream.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Conference.


  • Good thinking, Dave. Now done.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Nov '14 - 2:25am

    As someone struggling with my mental health I just want to write under this article to say I only ever mean the best for people. I understand others only mean the best too. Perhaps we could talk about this more often.

    I have an absolute rule against self-harm, so there is nothing to worry about, but it is still good to talk about mental health.


  • Who is the gentleman standing on the far right of the picture

  • I’m sorry but I have tried to find the identity without any luck. It is someone from the Scottish Mental Health Association .

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