26 OCT 2018

Putting mental health first

Nothing is more important than knowing you and your loved ones will receive the best possible care. That is why delivering a fairer share of healthcare in Dover and Deal is right at the top of my agenda.

That means bringing more services to Buckland Hospital and Deal Hospital. It means fighting for more GPs in our area.

And it also means battling for better mental healthcare. Mental health is just as important as physical health – and it must be treated that way.

That's why I fought so hard against plans to slash hours at Deal Mental Health Centre. Thankfully health chiefs did the right thing and have agreed to keep this vital service open five days a week.

And it's why we brought in a new trust to help local youngsters with mental health issues. Too many young people had been waiting far too long for treatment. The new team are tackling the backlog and the waiting list is now coming down.

It's been a long battle – but things are starting to improve. Equal treatment of physical and mental health has been enshrined in law. Spending on mental health has now increased to more than £11 billion. The Government is boosting the number of mental health professionals by 21,000.

And here in Dover and Deal, a few local heroes have been making a real difference. Take Tracy Carr, who runs the Talk It Out support group in Deal. I cannot begin to guess how many lives she's saved and how her incredible work has taken pressure off local health services.

It's important that volunteers like Tracy get the help they need – and that vulnerable people know where to turn to in a crisis. That's why I organised a mental health roundtable last week to bring everyone together.

Tracy joined me and representatives from local heath bodies. We heard from some of Talk It Out's service users about how things could be improved – particularly with the Crisis helpline, which people are advised to call in their most desperate hour.

We also heard how mental health services and caseloads at Coleman House in Dover have got better in recent months. And that plans are afoot for more primary care mental health specialists in our area.

There has been more good news recently with the opening of support charity Take Off's new base in Dover, which I recently visited. Their team are a real inspiration to everyone who has suffered from mental health problems. They have all battled through really difficult times themselves – and are now using their experience to help others.

It's vital we work together to help people suffering with mental health. People need somewhere to turn in their darkest hour. The more we can improve local services, the more lives we can save.

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Charlie Elphicke

Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!

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