Tag Archives: mental health

17 May 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Davey calls for big mental health investment on visit to Mid Dunbartonshire
  • Hunt owes an apology to millions of hardworking Brits after tax hikes
  • McArthur to host assisted dying Q&A at Scottish Liberal Democrat conference
  • Welsh Lib Dems blast Welsh Gov for failing women suffering from cancer
  • “It’s time to back our GP’s”- Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds

Davey calls for big mental health investment on visit to Mid Dunbartonshire

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has called for more support for people suffering from mental ill-health on a visit to the Milngavie and Bearsden Men’s Shed.

Ed, who is visiting Scotland for the Liberal Democrats’ Conference, will be joined by Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and Mid Dunbartonshire candidate Susan Murray.

Ed is calling for a trebling of the tax on social media giants to raise an extra £770 million for Scotland over the next five years, to fund dedicated mental health professionals in schools and GP surgeries and cut waiting times for patients.

Trebling the Digital Services Tax would raise an extra £9.5 billion for the UK over the next five years, of which £770 million would be allocated to Scotland.

Later in the day, Ed will deliver a keynote speech at the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in Hamilton.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

The SNP have been too caught up in their carousel of chaos to deal with the real and serious issues people are facing like the mental health crisis.

Right across Scotland people deserve to be supported by their local health services, for too long we have seen mental health, in particular, be neglected.

That’s why Liberal Democrats are calling for a big expansion of mental health services across Scotland, funded by the social media giants who are such a big part of the problem.

Above all, we need the ongoing melodrama from the Scottish nationalists to end so the Government can focus their time on delivering for the people of Scotland, not saving their sinking ship.

Hunt owes an apology to millions of hardworking Brits after tax hikes

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found 6.5 million people are being dragged into a higher tax band as a result of Conservative party budgets, including 15,000 in Jeremy Hunt’s own constituency.

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5 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • More than 1,800 people stuck in hospital
  • Cole-Hamilton: SNP cut £30m from mental health despite missing targets yet again
  • Lib Dems reveal some of the biggest nationalist failures on the international stage
  • Lib Dem Mayoral candidate beats cancer

More than 1,800 people stuck in hospital

Responding to new Public Health Scotland figures which show 1,860 people were stuck in hospital due to their discharge being delayed, with 57,860 days being spent in hospital by people waiting to be discharged, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

Amid a chaotic turnover of SNP health secretaries, the Scottish Government has completely failed to tackle core problems that are leaving far too many languishing in hospital wards.

People should never have to wait weeks or months in hospital for a care home place or help to return home.

The SNP’s ill-fated centralisation of social care will do absolutely nothing to ease pressures. This billion-pound bureaucracy must be scrapped, not salved.

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Liberal Democrats expose the impact of long GP and hospital waits on mental health

  • Around 12.5 million Brits’ mental health negatively affected by waiting too long for a GP or hospital appointment
  • Almost one in five (18%) say their physical health has been impacted by long GP or hospital waits, rising to 22% among over 65s
  • Lib Dems warn that NHS delays are causing a “mental health epidemic” and call for rescue plan in the Budget so people can access the care they need

One in four (24%) UK adults say their mental health has been negatively affected in the past month by waiting too long for a GP or hospital appointment, a survey by the …

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Mental health – we need to talk

Mental health, we need to talk. In 2020, a study suggested that mental distress had risen almost ten points, in less than one year, to 27.3% of the population and others, more recently, suggest the number may be even higher today. It frustrates me that it is only in recent years that the conversation around it has become mainstream. People have been having to deal with it for centuries, way too often alone, yet today some people ostracise the younger generation for now actually wanting to talk about it, even with the discussion around it being mainstream. I find that to be massively counterproductive.

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10 January 2024 – today’s Welsh press releases

  • “Urgent action needed to beat the clock in climate fight”- Welsh Lib Dems
  • Jane Dodds MS calls for more mental health support for rural Wales
  • “Now’s the time to capitalise on Green energy”- Welsh Lib Dems
  • “It’s time to call an end to child poverty”- Welsh Lib Dems

“Urgent action needed to beat the clock in climate fight”- Welsh Lib Dems

Today, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on both the Welsh Labour Government and the UK Conservative government to get serious on tackling the climate crisis.

According to BBC analysis, the year 2023 has been confirmed as the hottest year on record. And last week, the Met Office reported that the UK experienced its second warmest year on record in 2023.

Commenting, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:

I was deeply concerned to hear that this past calendar year has been confirmed to be the hottest on record.

If the past few years of extreme weather and soaring temperatures have not been a wake-up call, then this one should surely send alarm bells ringing both in Cardiff Bay and Westminster.

We desperately need urgent action to help us beat the clock in this fight against climate change.

Make no mistake, there is no do over. We can either make peace with our failures or fight not just for our future, but for our children’s and their children’s futures.

So, I ask governments across the globe, not just here in the UK, what will it be?

How will you want to be remembered for what you did during the greatest crisis humanity has ever encountered?

Jane Dodds MS calls for more mental health support for rural Wales

Today in the Senedd, Jane Dodds MS has called on the Welsh Government to improve access to mental health support and substance support for people living in rural areas.

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Mental health, Maths and a great British education

The past few years has seen Great Britain melt under the mental health epidemic. Depression has risen, anxiety has risen and, as a consequence, more and more young people are choosing to end their own lives, failed by the system and made to believe that they have no future. CAMHS, the organisation meant to be the lighthouse for young people, has become notorious for its waiting lists and embarrassingly inadequate support whilst the burden on teachers has risen to unsustainable levels. In Britain, we are at risk of raising a generation of depressed, visionless young people with their confidence and ability restrained by the pressures of modern education.

It’s always interesting to see how our fellow European neighbours are dealing with common issues and Denmark are yet again leading the way. In response to attempted suicides amongst schoolchildren going over 1000 in 2021, the Danish government started a 10-year action plan with the goals of (and I quote) “prioritising prevention, early detection, and equitable access to high-quality care, as well as improving the overall mental health and wellbeing of the population.” The Danish Liberal Party are the second largest in the current coalition government and have made it clear that education is a key priority; shown clearly in their pledge to treble operating grants for voluntary children’s and youth work.

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Part 2: Lib Dem Peers call for improved mental health services for young people

Yesterday we reported on the debate in the House of Lords on mental health services for children and young people secured by Earl Russell.

We thought you might like to read the other Lib Dem contributions to the debate. First up, Richard Allan who talked, among other things, about the effect of bullying on mental health:

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Russell for securing this debate. Like many others, I am impressed by how quickly he has brought value to the work of this House and by the combination of passion and reasoned argument that he brought to today’s debate.

I congratulate the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Hale, on her maiden speech. I had not realised that she is from Yorkshire but, based on the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, I can say, as a Sheffielder, that we are now on a Yorkshire hat trick as a group of three speakers. In my household, it is not often that we talk about the law as a cool and attractive profession, but the activities of the noble and learned Baroness in her previous role triggered such comments. Based on her contribution today, I am sure that, in future, she will provide examples of how our words here can be both impactful and entertaining. I hope that she does not let her natural diffidence get the better of her too often.

Turning to the subject of the debate, I start with a question: what do we call a family with experience of child mental health issues? The answer is “a normal family”. That has been reflected in the debate, as well as in my noble friend’s contribution as he related his own experience, but I suspect that every person sitting here today has their own direct personal experience of a young person suffering from mental health issues during their childhood, whether through their children, their nieces and nephews, their grandchildren or those children’s cousins. This understanding is necessary not to trivialise the matter—quite the opposite. If we normalise it, we may get to a position where we understand that child mental health issues need to be treated as seriously as other child health conditions, with an infrastructure and an understanding that, as my noble friend said, it is unacceptable to ignore them or somehow treat them as less serious.

The tools that we need to help people are common to all kinds of healthcare. First, we need early and accurate identification of problems. Secondly, we need good availability of the right treatment options; that is the case whether it is a physical issue or a mental health one. There are also four settings that need to work for young people in order to achieve these goals of the identification and treatment of the issues with which they present. The first is families themselves; the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, referred to the importance of family as the primary setting. The second is the educational institutions in which children find themselves; the third is primary healthcare; and then there are the acute services to which children may need to turn. I will not go into the issues around family support in any depth today other than to flag the fact that families and the care they provide must be recognised and supported. There is an important objective for government in supporting families who provide care for somebody, whether they have a physical condition or a mental health one; that care provides enormous value to the individual but also to society. There are questions around the extent to which, today, government provides the support that those families need.

I turn to educational settings. These are generally schools for younger children but we should not forget the significant role of universities and colleges. That is important because we are talking today about children and young people; to me, that extends through into those university years. It is another period of transition. For many of the young people who reach the age of 18 or 19 and transition to university, that is when the crisis hits. Again, universities have a critical role to play in this.

Major shifts are needed to improve staff training. Staff across all these different kinds of establishment need to be trained in such a way that they can help identify problems, because problems may first present themselves in an interaction between a young person and a professional in an institution. We also need to make sure that counsellors are available when they represent an appropriate form of treatment; they are frequently the first line. The Minister has made commitments around both those aspects previously—the training of all staff in educational establishments where that may be useful in identifying problems; and the provision of counselling services to the right degree so that, when issues have presented themselves, that first line of treatment is available—so I hope that he will be able to demonstrate progress.

I am interested to understand from the Minister how budgets will operate in this space given that it sits between different government departments. The young person does not care that one thing sits with DHSC and another sits with DfE, or whatever acronyms we are using now; they care about whether treatment is available. I hope that the Minister can indicate how we will ensure that budgets follow need rather than being stuck in departmental silos.

I want to touch on bullying, which can be both a cause and an exacerbating factor for somebody with mental health issues: it can trigger the mental health issue but, sadly, the start of bullying can also sometimes be the response of young people to someone in their school who has a mental health issue. It then compounds the crisis that a young person is suffering. The challenge is to have an effective response because these issues are often labour intensive, requiring engagement—often over a long period—with the children and families involved.

As noble Lords may be aware, I have professional experience of the online component of this as I spent many years working at a large online platform. It seems obvious that the nature of bullying has changed with ubiquitous connectivity. However, sometimes, there is also the risk of us seeing the solutions as entirely within the domain of technology. People report bullying to a platform, which can result in the removal of the content and sometimes the closure of the bullying account, but it rarely solves the underlying problem.

In some cases, the bullying is entirely within an online community, but much more typically the online activity is an extension of something that is happening offline in the real world. The intervention that resolves the problem is one that brings young people, parents and others together to discuss the offline and online activity. I understand the challenges for school staff in resourcing this, but some option will have to be found or we will simply be playing whack-a-mole on the online platforms, knocking down individual instances while the young person’s mental health continues to deteriorate because the bullying is moving from place to place and never being addressed at its root causes.

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Earl Russell highlights lack of mental health support for children and young people

Improving mental health has been a priority for the Liberal Democrats long before it was fashionable.

Our elected representatives at every level raise it whenever they can. Norman Lamb as health minister did so much to improve access to services but it’s been a long 8 years since he was in office.

Recently, our Earl Russell secured a debate in the House of Lords to highlight how appalling provision is for children and young people. Waiting times are horrendous. Imagine the impact on your education if you have to wait a year to even be seen. It’s then a long recovery and before you know it, that’s half your secondary education gone. And imagine the suffering if, like too many, CAMHS won’t even accept your referral.

For parents and carers, watching their young person struggle is one of the worst things to endure. And the anxiety of wondering if they will still be there in the morning, every day, takes its toll.

The debate is covered here on Today in Parliament, from about 20:10 in, and below are Earl Russell’s speeches. We’ll cover the contributions by Richard Allan, Claire Tyler and Mike Storey tomorrow.

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Daisy Cooper: Lib Dems have “huge opportunity” to take seats off Conservatives in the Blue Wall

Liberal Democrat Leader Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper will today (Sunday 24 September) give her first in person speech at the party’s Autumn Conference, issuing a rallying call to party activists to take on the Conservatives in the Blue Wall and deliver a brighter future.

She will also set out bold new plans to give people access to regular mental health MOT checks at key points in their lives where they are most at risk, such as women after childbirth, men aged in their 40s or those in retirement.

On taking the fight to the Conservatives in the Blue Wall, …

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Wera Hobhouse calls for action to tackle eating disorders

Anyone who has supported a loved one with an eating disorder will appreciate Wera Hobhouse’s tireless efforts to get better support and services for those living with these terrible and distressing conditions.

I know first hand how horrendous it is to watch someone suffering in this way. The agony that my loved one went through will stay with me forever, as will all the related anxiety. And I really appreciated that Wera drew attention to eating disorders in men for that reason.

What made things much worse is that there was so little in the way of practical support available. It is great to know that we have a champion in Parliament who gets this and who is fighting for more.

This Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Wera held a Westminster Hall Debate. She called for action to tackle an epidemic of eating disorders. She asked for a targeted strategy for eating disorders to tackle the waiting times for treatment for children and adults, provide training for health and education staff to recognise the signs that an eating disorder might be developing, earlier intervention and evidence based treatments.

The full text of her speech is below:

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Taking a stand on mental health

The recent pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have caused a severe deepening of a mental health crisis that was already facing the nation. It is astonishing that mental health has not featured at all in the Conservative Party’s conference. Contrast this with the commendable motion put forward by the Young Liberals on “Taking a stand on mental health!”

Dr Adrian James, Head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, in reference to mental health, notes that we are faced with a “threat of pandemic proportions” due to the deepening cost of living crisis, whilst earlier Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation, citing ONS data in May last year noted that depression rates had doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and forewarned of a growing mental health crisis in the UK. Mental health charity Mind has reported since 2017 that “approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year”.

Trying to make mental health a political priority can be hard, yet it is necessary. Whether directly or indirectly we will all be affected. It is essential that those of us with lived experience of mental health issues speak out, raise awareness and help eradicate stigma.

My personal journey, which at times resembled a Sisyphean struggle and more often has proven an arduous marathon, has seen me receive both hospital and outpatient support, through crisis management, diagnosis, stabilisation and re-claiming normality. I have had occasion to both appreciate the available service and the personal efforts made by many, but also to notice the shortcomings of a system at breaking point, which is not always fit for purpose, and which often relies on individual altruism or family support as a substitute to state or community structures.

All too often young people, in particular, fall through the cracks of the mental health system, myself included. The signs of me having a mental health disorder were there much earlier in my teenage years when I first experienced major depressive episodes but was unable to receive any real support as the CAMHS waiting lists were over a year and not much support was offered to me at the time other than being given anti-depressants which in retrospect only made my condition worse. Additionally, no support such as counselling was available at my school. Mental health is important for a myriad of socio-economic reasons, one being that it is much harder to be productive at work or achieve good grades at school.

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17 May 2022- today’s press releases

  • The Liberal Democrats are the main challengers to the Conservatives in Tiverton and Honiton
  • NI Protocol Changes: Risks starting a trade war with our largest trading partner
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats call for 24/7 mental health service

The Liberal Democrats are the main challengers to the Conservatives in Tiverton and Honiton

Responding to the announcement that the Tiverton & Honiton by-election will take place on Thursday 23rd June, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP said:

People in rural communities like Devon have had enough of being neglected by this Conservative government.

The Conservatives’ failure to tackle the cost of living crisis has left millions struggling to pay their bills, while people wait hours for an ambulance and weeks for a GP or dentist appointment.

The Liberal Democrats are the main challengers to the Conservatives in Tiverton and Honiton. On the 23rd June voters can send Boris Johnson’s government a message they cannot ignore – and elect a strong local champion who will stand up for them.

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Olney letter: Suicide risk assessment must be improved

Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, and Steve Mallen, co-founder of the Zero Suicide Alliance are the lead signatories in an open letter to Sajid Javid published in yesterday’s Times. Olney and national charities have teamed up with Philip Pirie whose son Tom, a young teacher, took his own life a day after a counsellor determined that he was at “low risk” of suicide.

An average of 17 people a day took their own lives in 2020. An average of five of these were in touch with mental health services and four out of those five had been assessed as “low” or “no” risk. Standardised risk assessment tools are poor predictors of suicide. Yet despite NICE guidance saying such assessments should not be used they are still commonplace.

 

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Cooper: NHS rocked by mental health tidal wave

The Liberal Democrats have warned the NHS is at breaking point after new figures uncovered a mental health crisis sweeping through staff across health services in the UK.

A Freedom of Information Request tabled by the Party to all NHS Hospital Trusts has revealed that there have been at least 8.3 million mental health sick days since 2017.

The number of mental health sick days has increased every year since 2017, with some Trusts seeing large increases during the pandemic years.

The terrible revelations show that in 2021 alone more than 2 million days were taken off sick by staff suffering from mental health issues – the equivalent of 6,041 years. Liberal Democrat analysis of the data taken from 67 Hospital Trusts shows that Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has been hit, with a staggering 591,254 working days lost to mental illness.

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The importance of acknowledging mental health

In November 2020, I had a breakdown.

I was a postgraduate student when the news broke that Covid-19 was worse than we thought, resulting in all classes going online. We all thought it would last a few weeks, have a few awkward Zoom interactions, then it would all be over and remembered as a strange but interesting time. Fast forward 2 years, and it’s only now the class of 2020 is finally having its graduation ceremony. Exams had finished come June 2020, which meant from July to September, all postgraduate students were now focusing on dissertations. I was looking forward to it, as I had aspirations to go further with my education and pursue a PhD, with the master’s dissertation being my opportunity to build the foundations of my future thesis.

In our first meeting, my supervisor informed me that I had spent too long researching. Stress increased, along with anxiety. As time went on, my chest was feeling heavier, I was having headaches and I was snapping at my family and friends whenever they asked about the dissertation. I was feeling terrible but told myself it was fine, “all part of uni”. I eventually wrote up my research, sent it off and awaited my next meeting.

“Is this just your plan?”. I was so embarrassed, I wish I said: “No, this is just over a month’s work that I worked hard on, and I’d appreciate it if you recognised that”. But instead, I nodded my head and agreed that my work wasn’t good enough. I let slip my mental health had been getting bad; “It’s natural to feel like that with the dissertation, get your head down and do your best”. The meeting ended, and I was feeling more lost than ever. I had under a month to restructure my dissertation, write it up, analyse, send it off and pray I get a pass. I’d started comfort-eating a lot, I wasn’t sleeping and I was crying most days – somehow still convincing myself this was all fine.

What followed was more meetings and more bad news, which all culminated in an extension on my dissertation from the university. I remember describing how I was feeling to my mum at this point: “There are two sides fighting in my head, and both are telling me I’m doing terrible”. She was rightly concerned, as was the rest of my family; just not me, who was still convinced I could power through. In the last meeting, I had with my supervisor, I received the worst possible feedback; “you’ll most likely fail”. Just typing that out makes me stop and relive the experience of crying on camera, while my supervisor tried desperately to glean something positive from my work.

And then, it happened. I had my breakdown.

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Why waiting times matter in mental health

18 weeks. That’s the target waiting time, often missed, from referral to being seen.  From now in deepest darkest December to  Mid April, what an age that is. It’s hard on adults. Arguably harder when that’s how long some of our most distressed young people have to wait for support. 18 weeks or  4 months is a very long time if you are 13. If you are being bullied, if life is becoming more complex and you feel ill equipped to cope. It’s more than a school term, it’s too long and that’s the best on offer. Too often, currently for  1600  children,  the wait was over a year. Let’s be realistic, any child that has asked for help and waits over a year will undoubtedly experience that response as  No, there is no help.

The last 18 months has seen very few of us untouched by the pressures of the pandemic and the impact on the mental health of both adults and the young has been significant. From a self-reported rising anxiety across the population generally to increased rates of disordered eating and self harming amongst young people.  

In my work as Counsellor I have seen this in the increased waiting lists for our third sector services, parents seeking private services for children to avoid waiting times that seem to be never ending and referrals to online services. Even before Covid we were in trouble. One young person I worked with, told me what she’d learnt from 5 years bouncing between referrals from her GP  to the private sector, to CAMHS and to online services as she now transitioned to adult services.

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World Suicide Prevention Day: A councillor view from the hill farm

It is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Tracey and Richard Huffer farm high on a hill in south west Shropshire. Tracey is also a health professional. Along with myself and four others, we are Lib Dem councillors in a very rural area. Sometimes it feels we can’t sit down for a chat without mentioning the “s” word. Someone else has taken their life. And it is mostly younger people, mostly men. This article reflects how on the growing problem of suicide in rural areas and the struggles councillors have to get help in tackling the problem.

Richard was at the livestock market selling sheep recently.

I was leaning against the railings at the sheep pens. An elderly farmer, a stranger, joined me and started pouring out about his son who had shot himself at the age of 30. I was probably one of the few people he had seen for a while, perhaps the only one for days.

I wish I could say this was a one off. Sadly not.

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Mental health pressures on Olympic competitors

Liberal Democrats have been strongly campaigning on mental health for several years now.

Here is the party’s response to Simone Biles’ acknowledgement of the pressures she has been under. She has won a total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals in gymnastics and the expectations placed on her are exceptional.

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Depression, Section 136 and a Senedd Candidate

Recently reading that nearly 5 people every day were sectioned across Wales during 2020 really had an effect on me. I decided to stand for election because of my experience not only in the business world but because I am one of those detentions by the police under section 136 of the 1983 mental health act.

The night I lost all rights and became a individual protected by the state for my own safety and society, will remain with me for my entire life. Police collected me following my family contacting them and I was driven to the nearest hospital, and was held there for my own protection. I was in my late twenties at the time and had never expected myself to reach the point of crisis as I did. I don’t think anyone thinks they will reach that point.

The six police officers that evening were angels, and deserve every commendation for the actions they carry out as part of their duties. I wish my mental ill health had not got to the point where I needed the state to intervene, but I can’t go back so must fight for change so that someone else doesn’t reach that point.

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Declare a mental health crisis say Scottish Lib Dem MSPs

Even if your circumstances have not been too adversely affected by the pandemic, chances are you have gone through some mental health challenges. Even people who were coping pretty well have found the dark and cold Winter lockdown pretty grim.

And if you have had to suffer bereavement, loss or financial struggles along the way, it’s been so much harder.

A study tracking Scotland’s mental health during the pandemic found that there was a significant rise in those contemplating suicide or suffering from Depression and Anxiety. The Herald reports:

The second wave of the Scottish Covid-19 Mental Health Tracker survey, which was carried out between mid July and mid August, a time when Covid-19 restrictions had been eased, showed 13.3 per cent had thought about taking their life in the last week.

That is up from the 9.6% recorded in the first wave of the research, which took place between May 28 and June 21.

That was in the Summer when restrictions were at their lowest point and the weather was at its finest

Last month the same paper reported a Federation of Small Businesses survey which found that half of the small business owners who responded said that they were struggling with mental health.

And another report suggested that almost half of young people had said that their mental health had deteriorated due to not being able to see their friends and worrying about their future prospects because of the state of the economy.

Even before the pandemic struck, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services struggled to meet demand. It was not unusual for young people to wait more than a year even to be seen.  You don’t have to be that good at maths to work out that even if you recover within another year, your life has still been blighted for more than a third of your secondary education. That has got to have an impact on life chances.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have been badgering the Government for years to improve mental health services. Now that these under-resourced services are going to feel any more pressure, the party will call for a mental health crisis to be declared in a parliamentary debate this afternoon.

In their opposition day slot, they will ask the Parliament for the second time to declare the situation a crisis. When the issue was last debated back in November 2019 (we are consistent, after all), the Greens and SNP ganged up to remove all reference to a crisis from our motion.

Our Mental Health Spokesperson Rebecca Bell explained why it was so important for the Government to act to help those who are struggling with mental ill health:

“People are struggling. When they turn for help, it is often not there. Problems that can start small, become crises as help is either lacking or arrives too late. Waiting times for mental health services are long and the targets for treating people have never been met.

“That was true before the pandemic, but the situation is now even graver. Sadly with resources vastly outstripped by the demands on services from those who need mental health treatment, departments are forced to focus solely on the acute end of the scale. that means more people are left sick for longer, and just getting worse. We need to aim for prevention as well so fewer people suffer mental ill health in the first place

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WATCH: US Congressman’s beautiful and heartbreaking tribute to his son

Content warning: Suicide:

I have been known to become exceptionally sweary while watching Sunday morning news programmes. The inane and out of touch utterances of some politicians drive me mad.

But today I was moved to tears by the proud and loving way in which Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin talked about his son, who died by suicide on New Year’s Eve.

He was very open about what he had been through, and spoke so eloquently about his son Tommy and what he had brought to the world. He sounds like a wonderful, community minded, considerate person who lived his values.

Four days after Tommy died, Rep Raskin and his wife Sarah wrote a tribute to him which was full of love and warmth.

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Reflections on World Mental Health Day

Back in 2007, when Nick Clegg made mental health the focus of his first major speech as Lib Dem Leader, it was pretty groundbreaking. And we walked the walk as well as talked the talk. Arguably the most successful part of our time in coalition was Norman Lamb’s work as mental health minister. Not only did he do so much to talk about mental ill health and so challenge the stigma, but he improved mental health services for people.

I often wished Scotland had a Norman Lamb. It took years for the SNP Government to update its mental health strategy and even now young people have to wait for such a long time to be seen. The pandemic has made that even worse. I know a young person who was seriously self-harming who had to wait for over a year for an appointment with a consultant. The impact that can have on education is seismic. If you have to wait a year to be seen and then another year at least before you actually start to feel like you can function, that is a third of your secondary education gone, just like that.

Over the past year and a half, my mental health has ricocheted between terrible and just about getting through the day with a smile on my face. The election campaign and its aftermath broke me and I ended up having two months off work at the beginning of the is year because I had reached the end of my ability to cope. In reality, I’d had nothing in the tank for a good while but kept ploughing on regardless, relying on adrenaline to get me through. That heaps on its own special kind of exhaustion. Sure, you can do your job and get through the day but it is so incredibly tiring until  eventually you just can’t.

What helped me earlier this year was my GP taking one look at me and sending me off to a community wellbeing hub where I had someone help me untangle all the stress, classes to help understand what was going on, a stress management course which took up my Wednesday evenings for a couple of months and, for the first time in my life, I went to a Yoga class. Believe me, I am terrible at Yoga, but it is very good at calming me down.

I’ve always thought that peer support is an essential part of recovery from anything, whether it’s breastfeeding problems or Cancer or stress. Meeting other people going through the same thing and listening to their experiences and what had helped them was invaluable.

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25 September 2020 – conference day 1 press releases

  • Ed Davey opens Liberal Democrat conference
  • Failure on test and trace is putting public health at risk
  • Liberal Democrats back proposals for “world class” mental health support for health and care staff
  • Liberal Democrats urge Government to tackle spread of fake news
  • Time to campaign for Universal Basic Income has come, Liberal Democrats declare

Ed Davey opens Liberal Democrat conference

Speaking on the opening of the Liberal Democrats’ first digital conference today , Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has warned the coronavirus crisis is taking an “enormous toll on people’s lives and livelihoods” and urged his Party to listen, challenge Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and …

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29 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt must make mental health support available to health and care workers
  • New Trade and Agriculture Commission must be a “watchdog with teeth” – Farron
  • Govt must stop spending money on measures that don’t prevent crime
  • Govt must make more help available for people and businesses in Leicester

Govt must make mental health support available to health and care workers

Responding to reports that Labour have announced a “Care for Carers” plan, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Over the past months the Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to ramp up mental health support for health and care staff. It is

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26 May 2020 – the day’s press releases

And that brings us back up to date…

  • All Tory MPs must reflect on Govt resignation and call for Cummings to go
  • Govt must invest now in mental health support given impact of COVID-19
  • Govt must scrap Vagrancy Act as part of plan to end rough sleeping for good
  • PM out of touch with public and his own party
  • Govt review into lockdown fines shows one rule for Cummings and one for everyone else
  • Increase in prison staff Covid-19 cases show Govt allowing prisons to become crucible for virus

All Tory MPs must reflect on Govt resignation and call for Cummings to go

Responding to the resignation of a Conservative Minister in protest at the row over Dominic Cummings, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Countless people have made heartbreaking sacrifices to keep to the Government’s rules, so people are understandably angry about Dominic Cummings’ behaviour.

Douglas Ross recognises it cannot be one rule for senior government officials and one rule for everyone else, so why doesn’t the Prime Minister? Boris Johnson is losing the trust of his own Ministers and his judgement is seriously in question. To tackle this pandemic and save lives, people deserve better.

All Conservative MPs must reflect on this resignation, stop defending the indefensible and put the public health of our country first by calling for the Prime Minister’s scandal-hit spin doctor-in-chief to go.

Govt must invest now in mental health support given impact of COVID-19

Statistics from the ONS show that across Great Britain from 3 April to 3 May 2020, some 80% of adults were worried about the effect that COVID-19 was having on their life. Responding to these figures, Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, said:

The majority of people right across the country have experienced a tangible, detrimental mental health impact as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Ministers must recognise that the mental health scars of COVID-19 will be deep. We need to see investment now to ensure that people – regardless of where they live – can access the support they need, when they need it.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to urgently increase funding for and provision of mental health support. We are calling for access to mental health support 24/7 for those working in health and care, many of whom are enduring daily trauma, and better funded, clearly signposted support for every single community.

Given the severity of the COVID-19 crisis in the UK, which has unfolded on his watch, the Prime Minister must act to ensure we provide a world-leading mental health response. The recovery of people across our family of nations requires it.

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18 May 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems launch calls for more mental health support for health and care staff
  • Lib Dems lead cross party push to keep pubs in business
  • People deserve an upfront answer from Powys MPs
  • Govt must increase testing capacity to maintain credibility

Lib Dems launch calls for more mental health support for health and care staff

The Liberal Democrats are today calling on the Government to ramp up mental health support for health and care staff to ensure “world-class” support for those tackling the virus head on.

Highlighting the “deep scar” coronavirus will leave on health and care staff, the party have put forward a package of mental health measures designed for rapid roll-out across the NHS and care sectors, including:

  • 24/7 access to mental health support for health and social care workers, through a dedicated helpline
  • Guarantees that health and care staff will no longer be penalised for time off due to mental or physical ill health by scrapping the Bradford scoring system and other HR practices that can create a culture of presenteeism
  • Introduce an ‘occupational health passport’ so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas if or when they change jobs
  • Additional training to ensure there are mental health first-aiders in every health and care workforce
  • Steps to standardise the quality and service offer to ensure that every health and social care worker can access the same, high standard of mental care support regardless of the region in which they are based
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16-17 May 2020: the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Covid-19 mental health implications a ticking time bomb
  • Lib Dems call for permanent remote voting option for MPs
  • Govt must be transparent if they want public support for reopening schools
  • Davey: Govt approach to tracing ‘totally inadequate’
  • Lib Dems: Govt putting ideology above people’s lives in refusing to extend Brexit talks
  • Govt must not pursue isolationist approach to vaccine

Lib Dems: Covid-19 mental health implications a ticking time bomb

Responding to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ findings that psychiatrists fear a ‘tsunami’ of mental illness after the pandemic, Liberal …

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Ten years of living with the Black Dog

Embed from Getty Images

My first encounter with what I call the black dog was in the early months of 2010, not long after I went off work the previous autumn. I initially rebuffed my GP’s offer of antidepressants. That was partly because of a misplaced idea that it would be an admission of weakness to start taking drugs and a concern that being on them might adversely affect my ability to care for Daphne, who was seriously ill.

Eventually the pressures of caring and the feeling of isolation resulting from having had no contact from work colleagues led me to a point where I felt I needed medication. The first course of tablets the Doctor prescribed made me feel really ill (I can’t remember their name) so she switched me onto a different one. After a few weeks they started to help me cope better and in December of that year when my personal work situation was more or less resolved I felt well enough to stop taking them. Unfortunately I wasn’t told to taper the withdrawal, and going cold turkey was tough. That said, I managed fairly well eventually.

My next encounter with the medication came in January 2015. By then Daphne was in residential care, her condition deteriorating and my attempts to obtain some sort of part time role at my old work were going nowhere. Those were the triggers, this time it took longer for me to feel any real impact. In fact, I would say it was between 12 and 18 months. In addition on this occasion my sleep was badly disturbed and I was also given tablets to help with that. By the summer of 2017 I felt OK and again began the process of coming off the tablets this time in stages. Then my Daphne died which was hard and I started going through a bereavement process. I continued with the withdrawal.

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Lib Dems lead cross party call for mental health plan in response to COVID-19 crisis

Liberal Democrats are at the forefront of cross party calls for a long-term, cross-departmental mental health plan in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Citing the “acute” impact of the pandemic on mental health, a cross party group of Parliamentarians warn that over half of adults admit the coronavirus crisis has impacted their wellbeing.

The group, led by Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson, are calling for the Government to set up:

  • An expert-led mental health taskforce to advise on the best methods to deal with the mental health impact of coronavirus.
  • A cross-departmental mental health plan to find ways to

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11 December 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Swinson: One day left to stop Boris Johnson and stop Brexit
  • Welsh Lib Dems: Put a penny on income tax to transform mental healthcare

Swinson: One day left to stop Boris Johnson and stop Brexit

Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson will today (Wednesday 11th December) deliver her final speech of the election campaign in Esher and Walton, urging voters to back the Liberal Democrats to stop Boris Johnson getting a majority and stop Brexit.

Jo will be attending a series of rallies with activists throughout to the day including in the Conservative-held seats of Esher and Walton, Guildford and Wimbledon.

Jo Swinson is expected …

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