Sunday, 17 March 2013

A new Mental Health Era for Thanet

Mental health is one of the most important aspect of wellbeing but is one that carries with it a wide range of stigma and prejudice. I know this because as an epileptic I have experienced some of this lack of understanding first hand. But ensuring that we get the support right for those with mental health conditions is crucial both for the individuals themselves and their families and society as a whole. 
That was why I was so privileged to be chairing the first meeting in Thanet of all the agencies and charities involved with mental health for youngsters transitioning between child support and care into Adult services. It is a really difficult time for any young people moving from being teenager to becoming a young adult - never mind if you have mental health conditions. So it is crucial that we get it right. 
Rethink, the leading charity on mental health issues suggests that there is a lot more that needs to be done to help these young people. Their research shows that young people find that support during this transition period is lacking and can result in some dramatic consequences from greatly exacerbating their condition to ending up in the criminal justice system. This then not only leads to problems at home and at school or work but also puts additional strain on our emergency services who are left to pick up the pieces when things go very wrong.
We need to avoid turning a mental health difficulty into a mental health crisis and provide the support that is more comprehensive. Our meeting also resolved that everyone in the public sector needs to understand the early warning signs of a mental health condition so that can use preventative approaches to manage the earliest signs of young people struggling with what can be dramatic and life changing problems.
The Government is absolutely committed to improving mental health and reducing the stigma surrounding it. There is no magic wand but we do now have a group of people responsible for mental health support here in Thanet who have made commitments to closing the gap in provision between being classified as a child to being treated as an adult. This week was the first step in closer working together. There have been transformational service provision for those with mental health conditions in other areas of the country; let's make Thanet next.

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