Norman Lamb MP writes…Thanks for talking #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015Regular readers will be used to me banging my drum on these pages about the work that Lib Dems are doing in government on mental health.

Mental health has been disadvantaged within the NHS for far too long, and changes like legislating for equality for mental health, introducing the first access and waiting time standards, and – in particular – confronting the poor state of children’s mental health services in many places are all incredibly important.

But something just as important has been happening here on Lib Dem Voice today.

I wrote here about Time to Talk a year ago, saying that contributions from fellow members had reinforced for me, powerfully, why I am a Liberal Democrat. Tackling mental health stigma is fundamentally about freedom – freedom from poverty, ignorance, and conformity.

But this year, I think I have been even more moved. The openness with which so many of you have written about deeply personal experiences is striking. But more than that, I think it says something about the sense of community within our party that people have been happy to share their stories in this forum. We may have arguments and disagreements about all sorts of things in the comment boxes for 364 days of the year (and long may that continue), but days like today show how much we are united.

Earlier today, I made a phone call myself for Time to Talk, to Jo Cooksey who won a competition last year for her account of Time to Talk Day. Jo had returned to work on Time to Talk Day in 2014 after time off with anxiety and panic attacks. She resolved to talk to other people in the office about the problems she had experienced – and discovered that three of the six people she spoke to had suffered panic attacks themselves but never told anybody because they were worried about the consequences. Jo’s willingness to talk will have made it easier for those other people should there be a next time.

Stories like Jo’s, and the stories we have read on Lib Dem Voice all day, are what Time to Talk is all about. No one should have to suffer the torment of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems alone. And if we all make a little effort – five minutes every now and then – to talk to people about their mental health, no one will have to.

To everyone who has done their bit for Time to Talk today, thank you.

* Norman Lamb is MP for North Norfolk and was Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health until May 2015. He now chairs the Science and Technology Select Committee

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  • Just one point to add to a great day of information exchange on mental health. People should not feel they have to talk if they don’t want to.It really must be down to them. There must be absolutely no pressure. We must exercise real care because people experiencing emotional distress are vulnerable. Especially when it comes to PTSD, there is even some evidence that reliving an experience can make things it worse. We need to absolutely respect a person’s right to share their experiences – or not to if they don’t want to.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 5th Feb '15 - 10:39pm

    Judy, there is absolutely no obligation for people to speak out about their mental health. We put out a call inviting articles. I get what you are saying, but giving voice to those who do want to speak up is important and will tackle the stigma.

  • Of course. I wasn’t thinking about LDV’s call for articles, but about the wider Time to Talk day and hashtag. People are at different stages in their experience of things and I was only suggesting that people need to decide whether disclosure is right for them at any given time.

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