THE BLOG

Drawing a Line

02/11/2015 11:23 | Updated 02 November 2015

I'm knackered and a bit miserable. Not because some bottom feeders threatened me and some sheep followed them and threatened my kids. I'm over that. Mainly because I am fairly certain my seven-year-old son could take them on in an intellectual debate and win without breaking a sweat. To be honest I'd like to stop talking about it. Cue a million people on Twitter saying "oh yeah she wants to stop talking about it, then why is she still talking about it, stupid dumb fat feminazi." Well I'm not actually, let's talk about what you want to talk about. But just FYI, when I read your tweets in my head you sound like Biff from Back to the Future.

I am miserable because I let my self down. My flippancy and palpable anger in the face of Phil Davies MP has been grossly misrepresented, that I don't care about issues that affect men. I'll just pause for a second to say that anyone who thinks that Phil Davies MP cares about the vulnerable and marginalised in the community might want to look at his Wikipedia page. Apparently he thinks it is acceptable to call a BMW, "Black Man's Wheels". Phil Davies, what a guy.

The most painful misrepresentation of me by the Biffs of this world is that I don't care about male suicide rates. It's frankly remarkable that I find myself in the position that I have to do this but let me be clear, I really, really do care. I really, really care that men's mental health services leave people stranded on waiting lists. I really, really do care that the NHS have not got an across-the-board targeted male mental health service to combat this, the biggest killer of our younger men. I am sure there are pockets of amazing innovative work in this area, but we need it across all of our mental health services. I have agreed to ask for a debate on the subject. I promise if I get one I won't let Phil Davies talk it out, like he did to carers last week. I will call for a review on all mental health trust practices. I will put in FOIs to every trust asking for their waiting list info. I will call for the Government to spend money on creating a specialist men's suicide prevention service.

There you go Biff. Happy now? You won't be. I know you won't. So I will tell you now I am not doing it for you. I am doing it for all the men in my constituency suffering from these problems, some of whom come to my surgery every week. Because do you know what, I am really, really good and well trained in dealing with these issues and helping bipolar people, depressed people, suicidal people. I know my way round the maze of services like the Biffs know their way round the crappiest bits of the Internet. I know all this because I have been finding my way round it since I was about 15. There are not many Birmingham mental health clinics I have not accompanied a loved one to. Perhaps Phil Davies would like to take my midnight A&E visits off my hands - I'll tell you now Phil the coffee in the QE hospital machine is passable but the snack machine eats your money.

I remember asking my Grandad, who lived with me all my life until his death, what the marks on his wrists were when I was about 10. He told me he was sad, but it would be ok. You see, bipolar is hereditary. So when people send me emails saying they hope I come home to find my sons hanging, they are not saying anything I haven't already considered. Thanks to my crappy feminazi genes I have to think about this.

I am so sorry if I offended any of the massive silent majority, with how what I said to Phil Davies has been misrepresented. You are already getting a slow and under-resourced service, without thinking people are acting against you. The truth is I care deeply about fighting for women's equality and I will do all I can to use my expertise to do this in my time in Parliament. I won't apologise for that. But I also care about issues that affect men and I will do all I can to make this better too. After all I'm a woman, I can multitask.

Jess Philips is the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk
  • HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41

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