We’re nearly free! Time for extra mental health help

The 21st of June is now dangling tantalisingly before us – a date on which we’ll regain those freedoms which we’ve been forced to abnegate for too long.

And in the weeks leading up to that date – and in the months beyond, we’ll see an exponential explosion of growth – physical infrastructure mushrooming, businesses expanding and offices reopening.
Goethe once described architecture as ‘frozen music’. And even as we’ll see the aptness of that comparison in the world around us, I’m conscious that there are hidden, unseen problems that have been created or exacerbated by the enormously testing times through which we’ve all lived.

Having had the privilege to help literally thousands of constituents across the course of the pandemic, I know that mental health will have to be a real priority for the post-covid agenda. So it’s about our internal architecture, too, unthawing the internal freeze so many have felt during this period and ensuring that they can find responsive chords in the world around them.

I know from my conversations and correspondence that many in our area have suffered acutely from loneliness, a sense of despair and the appalling emotional wrench of compelled separation from family and friends. And this seems an appropriate time to ensure that physical and mental health finally enjoy parity of esteem.

The Government have pledged an additional £2.3 billion for mental health services by 2023-24 – an increased share of the NHS budget – to ensure that the silent suffering we’ve seen can find relief. And it’s worth saying this is not merely a problem that results from economic hardship, but also hits our young people – those who haven’t been able to see their teachers and friends for months and others whose ambitions have stalled as a result of exam cancellations or fewer employment opportunities. So we’re also going to see a further £1.4 billion to improve accessibility and availability of mental health support for young people.

If the aim of building back better is to be realised then it’s about doing so in a holistic sense – ensuring our mental, physical and economic resilience is strengthened. That’s what I’ll be attempting to achieve and support in the weeks and months ahead.

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