Nick Clegg takes questions on Men’s Health UK’s Facebook page

Nick Clegg's men's health q and aOn Thursday, Nick Clegg took part in a question and answer session on the Men’s Health UK Facebook page. The magazine has published some of the session here.

He talked quite movingly about the need to tackle the stigma attached to mental health to make it easier for particularly men to talk about their illness:

 One of the keys to changing this is to ensure that mental health trusts work with families and friends of patients just as much as with the patients themselves. When I visited the superb Mersey Care trust last week I met a patient who told me that when he was in hospital for a heart operation he received a constant and welcome stream of visiting friends and family. Yet when he was in a mental health ward for five months he received only three visits during his whole time there. That says all we need to know about the crippling effect of the stigma that still surrounds mental health. That’s why campaigns like Time to Change are so vital.

He also explained to a health worker how the government had ensured more money was going into mental health:

Joachim, you’re right that more money must go into local mental health services. The overall budget for mental health – approximately £11.6bn – has actually gone up not down. We now need local Clinical Commissioning Groups to give mental health the status and resources it deserves locally. I think we’re finally seeing movement in the right direction – NHS England has recently told CCGs to increase funding on mental health, and we’re about to change the basic funding formula for mental health trusts to put it on the same footing as hospitals etc.

I got the chance to ask him a question about reducing suicide and self harm in prisons particularly in light of the article John Lawrie wrote the other day about and the figures published on Thursday showing the rise in prisoner suicides. More than one a week is way too many. Nick’s reply showed that he was on the case:

Caron – you’re right to be worried. The statistics out this morning reveal the unacceptable scale of prison suicides. As it happens, I was discussing this with Chris Grayling yesterday in the Mental Health Taskforce which I chair in Government. I hope we’ll be able to announce some new steps to improve for eg liaison and diversion projects which get mental health experts into police stations and courts at the earliest possible opportunity. This spring there will also be a big step change in the individual help/support offenders get as they leave prison to help keep them on the straight and narrow. That will make a big difference in giving prisoners contemplating life outside prison a greater sense of hope.

The last thing I want is for this country to lose the leadership Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb have been giving to mental health and improving care. It’s more than a one term project and the best way to ensure that there isn’t any backsliding in the next Parliament is to make sure that Liberal Democrats are represented in significant numbers in Parliament.

On a lighter note, though, the picture above was put up on the page by Men’s Health UK. As you can see, Nick was rocking the jumper chic with a dark blue shirt underneath. But just 10 minutes earlier he’d been wearing a suit and a light shirt on Call Clegg.

Nick in suit on call clegg

It’s not exactly Great Mysteries of our Time, but these things do provide me with a disproportionate amount of amusement.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Eddie Sammon 24th Jan '15 - 3:36pm

    Is Clegg a fellow tea addict? I love a cup of tea on the coaster when working. 🙂

    About three years ago my mental health was excellent. These past few weeks I’ve had brief thoughts of wanting to die and not liking myself anymore. I’d never self-harm, but wishing an accidental death would happen was a new and worrying thought.

    I will always be fine and I know it is up to me to get better. It is hard to talk about mental health and it is something I will always want to help people with.

    Thanks to Nick, Norman and others for the work in this area.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jan '15 - 3:41pm

    Eddie, sorry to hear you’re not feeling great at the moment. Hope you soon feel better and have access to the support that you need.

  • Eddie, so sorry to hear that. Life can throw a lot at us sometimes and people often feel bad for a good reason, As Caron, says I hope you get the support you need and .please keep posting. It’s always good to hear from you.

  • I am worried that by talking about the stigma surrounding mental health we are in some, completely unintentional, way perpetuating it.

    To quote Mike Smith, vice-chair of the International Mental Health Collaborating Network:

    “The efforts to change individual acceptance and societies’ perceptions of the impact of mental ill health are laudable and I welcome them. But I think that by using words like stigma to describe society’s collective perceptions of mental health problems and the personal and social challenges people face, we accept the stigma and buy into the very concepts we are trying to challenge.” Guardian, 10th October 2014.

    That is why I also have some concerns about the Lib Dems’ caption used on Twitter which says ‘Let’s Stamp out STIGMA’ with the word STIGMA in big bold capitals, with the print of a boot behind it. This doesn’t feel quite right to me.

  • Jayne Mansfield 24th Jan '15 - 5:32pm

    @ Eddie Sammon,
    I am breaking my vow of silence this once to say, please get well soon Eddie.

    It may be, as you say, that it is up to you to get better, but there are times when we all need support to do this. Much is made of the so called stigma of emotional, psychological and psychiatric episodes, but sometimes the idea of stigma lies with the person who is suffering. I know of no-one who judges others because they are unwell. Why would they? Most people have either suffered from these episodes themselves or have a family member or friend who has.

    I hope that you don’t feel inhibited about seeking professional help when you get distressing thoughts. There really is support out there to help us overcome what is not weakness or an in ability to cope, but a painful reminder that we are all human, and therefore not invincible.

    Best wishes.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Jan '15 - 6:19pm

    Caron, Judy, Jayne, thanks. I feel a bit better and am broadly fine now, these were just recent depths I didn’t think it was possible for me to sink to. I think it is good for people to talk about these things every now and again.

    Best wishes

  • Eddie
    You say that 3 years ago your mental health was excellent, but now it isn’t. You are a worthy individual who is in a bad place right now, but your solution is in understanding and accommodating your moods. ( You already knew that !)
    That wellbeing you felt 3 years ago will return, but in the interim you must do whatever it takes to comfort yourself into a better place. You must sleep, eat and cosset yourself, until that transient darkness lifts.
    You have more friends that you imagine looking out for you.

  • Good to hear from you again Eddie. With your experience you have so much to others. Basically, we are all in this strange ,rather messed up world together. I know this may sound massively trite, but I love the CS Lewis quote: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” Even if it doesn’t always seem possible, maybe just maybe it’s true. Bye for now and all the best from us all.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Jan '15 - 12:28pm

    Thanks again. The comments mean a lot.

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