I’m committed to improving mental health services in London

17 May 2016

Yesterday was the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s something I pledged to support in my manifesto. It’s something we all need to be more aware of, and talk about too. So many of us suffer from mental health problems at some point in our lives, yet there is still a stigma attached. In fact, over their lifetimes, one in every four Londoners will have a mental health problem. Young people are particularly vulnerable. One in ten children and young people aged 5-16 have a diagnosable mental health issue. This is enough to fill 3,700 classrooms. Up to 25% of mental ill health during adulthood could be prevented during childhood and adolescence.

Yet within our health services, mental health is still seen as secondary to physical health. That needs to change. To help, I will campaign to break down the stigma of mental illness. I want more information and support to be made available in London. Young men, in particular BAME men and the LGBT+ community are at higher risk. I want men to be able to speak to someone and share their problems. It is shameful that in this country suicide is the single biggest cause of death in men under the age of 45. Almost half of young LGBT people have considered suicide too. Suicide is preventable and we should all be working together to reduce the number of people who take their own life in London.

I will coordinate efforts to reduce the number of people who take their own lives. I’ll fight for greater support for mental health services. I’ll also encourage London’s boroughs, health services, police, transport and voluntary sectors to work more closely to ensure that vulnerable people with severe mental ill health are supported when in crisis – and to prevent them from reaching crisis too.

Isolation and loneliness is another major cause of mental ill health. Having a friend or family member who’s happy and lives nearby, someone you can rely on in times of stress can really make a difference. Only 46% of over 65s report that they spend time with their families. Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives. Yet it’s easy to forget how important they are to our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week and will be the subject of my next blog post.

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