I was very saddened to read in The Courier on 9th March that 1/4 of Angus Council Staff and Angus Teachers who are off sick are, in fact, suffering with stress. Many of them will not be met with the understanding and sympathy they deserve, as Mental Health is poorly understood and there is a huge stigma attached to it.
Having been off work with stress myself last year, my heart goes out to all of them and hope that they are able to receive the support and treatment they desperately need. Personally, I was fortunate that I was getting great support from the magnificent Maggie’s Centre in Dundee, who have helped considerably in my recovery.
The figures published highlight the need to treat Mental Health on an equal footing with physical health. As the Lib Dem candidate for Angus in the upcoming election, I was delighted to see my party put Mental Health front and centre, adding it as one of our top five priorities on the front page of our manifesto.
However this is an issue that should cross all party political lines as Mental Health effects so many people across Angus and the rest of the country.
I have therefore written to my fellow candidates to politely request that we all agree on a simple set of commitments, if we are elected at the forthcoming election:
- Challenge the stigma around Mental Health so that anyone effected by it feels able to come forward and seek support and treatment as early as possible.
- Treat Mental Health on an equal footing with physical health, with maximum waiting time targets and additional funding for treatment.
- Provide education at schools so that young people are better equipped to understand mental illness should they be effected by it.
If we can dramatically improve Mental Health treatment we can help sufferers to recover more quickly and, as a secondary benefit, help to improve Angus Council’s sickness rates.