Stressed parents should treated as though they are physically ill, says Nick Clegg

Stressed parents should treated as though they are physically ill, says Nick Clegg


Stressed parents should be treated as though they are physically ill, and not be told to "pull themselves together", Nick Clegg will say on Monday. The Deputy Prime Minister will pledge to improve the standards of mental health treatment and bring the condition "out of the shadows”.

In a speech launching a new Mental Health Action Plan, which sets out 25 areas where immediate action is called for to improve care, support and treatment, Mr Clegg will say that people have to change the way they treat mental illness.

Current wrong-headed attitudes toward mental health were typified when England cricketer Jonathan Trott’s was told to “pull yourself together” and “winners don’t quit” when he came home from the Ashes tour with a stress-related condition. He said: “No-one would have said those things if Jonathan Trott had broken his wrist, but it’s typical of the different mways we treat physical and mental health.

“It’s damaging and unhelpful. At least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. That pretty much means that behind every door in Britain, you’ll find a family that includes or knows someone dealing with a mental health condition.

“It’s a Dad who is off work with stress; a mum suffering panic, attacks; a teenager with an eating disorder or a lonely grandfather coping with depression.

“It’s a good friend who’s feeling suicidal, a neighbour’s son dealing with schizophrenia or a work colleague managing bi-polar disorder. These are people’s everyday lives. And, as a society, we need to accept that.”

Mr Clegg will add: “All too often, attitudes to mental health are outdated; stuck in the dark ages; full of stigma and stereotypes. "It’s time for us to bring mental health out of the shadows and to give people with mental health conditions the support they need and deserve.”

Mr Clegg argues that waiting times for common mental health services are still too long, particularly in certain areas of the country. There have been stories of people of all ages being transferred, sometimes hundreds of miles, to access a bed, he says. He will tell a conference of mental health experts, charities and users of mental health services that some children with severe mental health problems are still being cared for in adult wards, and that face-down restraint is still being used - despite clear evidence of how damaging it can be.

Time to Talk campaign is being launched nation-wide to help people talk openly about mental health and get support. February 6 has also been picked as the first-ever Time to Talk Day. The campaign is led by the Time to Change programme, run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, with the aim of ending the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems.

One in three of sufferers come up against stigma and discrimination on a monthlyor weekly basis, according a survey of 5,000 people with mental health problems. Having to deal with stigma and discrimination from friends and in their social life is estimated to be a problem for 61 per cent of people.

Mr Clegg will say that mental illness costs the economy £105 billion every year. He adds that life expectancy for a man with severe mental illness is reduced by 20 years compared to the rest of the population and 15 years for a woman.


By Christopher Hope,


The Telegraph, 20th January, 2014.



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