Labour and Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree, President of Labour’s Campaign for Mental Health
Luciana Berger is the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree and President of Labour’s Campaign for Mental Health.
She was appointed Shadow Minister for Public Health by Ed Miliband in
October 2013, having previously served for three years as the Shadow
Minister for Energy and Climate Change.
Before entering Parliament, Luciana worked for a management
consultancy firm before being appointed Government and Parliamentary
Manager for the National Health Service Confederation. From 2007 to
her election in 2010, Luciana was a Director for a not-for profit
campaigning and education organisation working toward peace in the
Luciana is a graduate of the University of Birmingham (Commerce and
Spanish) and achieved a Masters at Birkbeck College in Government,
Politics and Policy.
Mental health is on the TV. On the radio. In the tabloids, in the broadsheets, in the magazines. Online. Mental health is on everyone's lips; Prime Ministers and future kings. Mental health is what everyone seems to be talking about. It's time to talk. It's good to talk. That really is something to celebrate. We are all talking about mental health - and yet ... and yet the talk is increasingly of crisis. We must ring-fence mental health spending to close the gap between the rhetoric of parity and the reality of cuts on the front-line. We must keep talking. But if we want to see real equality for mental health now is the time for action.
Where's the money to make a reality of the Prime Minister's oft-stated, but yet to be delivered, claim of parity for mental health? New figures I have gathered through Freedom of Information requests to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across England reveal that, for the fourth year in a row, the government has failed to deliver on its promise to increase the money reaching the mental health frontline.
The lingering stigma of the past, which is often perpetuated by the press, has created an unbearably hostile environment in which many people must contend with mental ill health. We see instances, where on the same news platform, there is one article praising a public figure for their honesty in revealing a mental health diagnosis, alongside another containing cruel and callous speculation about someone's emotional wellbeing.
<img alt="all women everywhere" src="http://i.huffpost.com/gen/5135874/original.jpg" width="300" height="35" />
Luciana Berger is the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree and president of Labour's Campaign for Mental Health. In this vlog for The Huffington Post UK, filmed on International Women's Day, Luciana talks about the importance of caring for women's mental health as they go through pregnancy and childbirth, bereavement care for parents who lose their children, and why we cannot let mums feel like they have nowhere to turn.
Today the minister must set out a concrete plan of action to ensure that no prisoner pays the penalty of their life. It is deeds, not words, which are now needed. We can't turn back the clock for those who have already been let down by our criminal justice system, but the Government has the power to banish this pitiful period to the history books.
Another key area which is undervalued, and often ignored, is research into mental health. As health budgets are squeezed ever tighter, funding for research into mental health is in peril. Research is always an easy candidate for cuts when it comes to making tough decisions about budgets.
We are starting to witness a shift in public opinion towards mental health. This is thanks not only to pioneering campaigners, but also an increasing number of celebrities, sports people and public figures who are willing to speak honestly about their experiences. But as the walls of silence begin to tumble, and the societal stigma around mental health begins to subside, there is concern that as more people seek treatment, they will find there just aren't services there to help them.
When Theresa May stood up to make her speech today, she had a real opportunity. She could have drawn a line under the Coalition Government's failings, and announced new money to treat society's mental health. She could have defined herself as a reforming Prime Minister, addressing head-on one of the biggest health challenges of our times. Instead, she came up with more of the same...
Suicide is preventable. I am hopeful that Ministers will take up the cause of suicide prevention with the urgency and vigour it so desperately requires. Now must be the time for real change to stop this unnecessary and deplorable loss of life. Our report should provide some useful recommendations to inform this task.
We must tackle the widening inequality in health outcomes between rich and poor. We must transform how we contend with mental health, and deliver true parity between physical and mental healthcare. We must properly integrate our health and social care services. It will once again be incumbent on a Labour government to appropriately resource our NHS to ensure people live longer, healthier lives.
Many people with a mental health condition struggle with their finances. For some, it means sliding into debt. People with mental illness are three times more likely to be in debt. This may add to the pressures and anxieties which are triggers for the mental illness. It can become a vicious spiral of money worries, illness and growing debt.
There are too many people today experiencing mental health problems who can only access help when they have already reached crisis point. We need investment in prevention, early diagnosis and intervention. We cannot ignore the ticking time bomb that is the product of stripping out so much early intervention. Theresa May acknowledged this during her first speech as Prime Minister, when she said, "If you suffer from mental health problems, there's not enough help to hand." It is vital that our new Prime Minister steps in and makes sure that mental health services get the funding they so desperately need.
Today, we think about all the families affected by suicide, and recognise the role of those professionals and volunteers who provide care, counselling and support. We should also give some attention to people who the Courts have determined should be deprived of their freedom, because time spent in prison should not mean losing your life to suicide.
When Aneurin Bevan spoke in support of the second reading of Labour's NHS Bill 68 years ago, he made a very simple, clear case. He argued that for healthcare to be truly universal, and democratic, it must be delivered through a national system. The N in NHS must truly stand for National, he argued...
In the next decade the EU will use the framework to work with member states to bring each up to the standards of the best and to encourage the collaboration we will need if we are to break the last of the taboos and discrimination which mean that mental health gets treated differently to our physical health. We should not be putting all that progress and all those possibilities at risk by walking out the exit door next week.
15/06/2016 17:20 BST
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