Monday, 5 November 2012
Over the past few years, an increasing number
of MPs have approached us to ask for advice in supporting
constituents with mental health problems. This is not surprising –
one in four people will experience a mental health problem in any
one year, and mental health problems can affect anyone, from any
background. But in the current difficult economic climate, MPs have
told us that they are experiencing a rise in case work in which
mental health – such as anxiety over the future – plays a role.
We know MPs are comfortable in assisting
constituents with more ‘traditional’ concerns, such as housing or
employment. And even if they are not sure in a certain case, most
know where they can go to find more information. But there is a
feeling that when it comes to mental health, it’s more difficult to
know how to help.
Sometimes it’s simply a matter of not knowing
what sources of help are available locally. But we hear of times
when MPs or staffers have had to help constituents in states of
extreme distress or anxiety, and have lacked confidence in their
approach. At these times it would be beneficial to have some
practical advice and guidance from organisations with specialist
knowledge of mental health.
Over the last year we have worked with Rethink
Mental Illness and Mind, in liaison with MPs and staff from all
political parties, to find out what information would be helpful
for them to have.
The booklet we have produced provides an overview of
mental health, and sets out the local bodies and organisations that
can help MPs support constituents. It also addresses how MPs and
staffers can look after themselves in situations that are more
challenging, and includes practical examples of the language and
working practices that could be employed.
A hard copy will be posted to all
constituency offices this week. We believe that by developing
understanding and confidence in supporting people with mental
health problems will lead to a more meaningful interaction between
constituents, MPs and their staff.
Subscribe to this post's comments using