There’s one issue that threads together many of the reasons why people turn to me for help: mental health. Take housing, for example. The number one reason people ask me for help is over a housing issue, but the most heartbreaking are the many people I have met who’s mental health challenges have been exacerbated by poor housing or, in several cases, exploited by landlords.
Yesterday we learned that one-in five people arrested by police in London have mental health challenges. It is further proof that our failure to support people with mental health challenges has a direct effect on almost every other one of our public services. But worst of all it shames our society that we are failing to care for the most vulnerable among us.
To understand these complex issues in more detail I spent the morning with staff at Mill View Hospital in Hove. Just like any other hospital it caters for people with varying degrees of illness and from what I saw it is doing so with all the humanity and professionalism that we have come to expect from our NHS at its best.
Even at a time of public spending cuts and upheaval within the NHS, managers at Mill View Hospital have found new ways of helping people in times of crisis. Just one example is how their partnership with Sussex Police has led to a new system where people with potential mental health challenges who are arrested are taken to a new facility at Mill View instead of being detained in police cells. This way they can instantly receive the specialist care they need.
I have pledged to meet regularly with staff at Mill View Hospital should I become the MP for your community in May and to explore ways in which the role of local MP can be used to find better local support for people in need of care and friendship within our neighbourhoods. I also took the opportunity to offer my full support to the Labour Campaign for Mental Health.
Mental health problems are still not talked about openly enough and many of us find it an intimidating issue to confront. I hope we can work on this together and make our community a kinder place for those needing extra support to maintain their mental health. I will certainly do my bit to make that a reality. All the best, Peter