As support for Mental Health Watch campaign grows, here’s how you can get involved

Mental health. Pictured: A couple comfort each other. Picture: Newscast Online

Mental health. Pictured: A couple comfort each other. Picture: Newscast Online - Credit: Newscast Online

The public, MPs and a former footballer are today amongst the first to officially sign up to our pledge to fight for those who suffer with mental health problems.

Darren Eadie

Darren Eadie - Credit: Archant Norfolk

We want as many people as possible to sign up to our Mental Health Watch campaign, online or via the form below. It is hoped that by doing so it will give comfort to those who suffer, as well as highlight how strongly people feel about the issue.

Nigel Pickover, editor of the EDP and the Norwich Evening News, said: 'This is one of our most vital campaigns yet. An increasing number of people suffer with mental health issues, yet a stigma still exists, awareness remains poor and the support is inadequate in many areas.

'We are determined to do whatever it takes to make a difference for those who suffer.'

The campaign has already received official backing from the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, MPs Norman Lamb, Chloe Smith, Clive Lewis and Keith Simpson, the Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) and the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt


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Mid Norfolk MP and government minister George Freeman added his support, saying: 'Mental health disorders are the single largest cause of disability in the UK and cause often-silent suffering for millions more. But for too long mental health has been neglected. With suicide now the largest cause of death amongst the under-25s and the hidden suffering and costs of undiagnosed mental health, it is more urgent than ever.

'That's why I recently announced a £600,000 fund for the Big White Wall project and I am delighted to support this excellent campaign.'

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Henry Bellingham, MP for North West Norfolk, added: 'For far too long mental health provision has been the a low priority for both the NHS and local government.

'This is now rapidly changing, and there is a growing recognition that early intervention can both save lives and prevent much greater cost and involvement by the NHS and social services. The campaign is very well timed and I wish it every success.'

Heidi Jackson, a 19-year-old UEA student from Dereham, said she had suffered a mental illness herself, and fully supported the campaign.

She added: 'There should be no difference between physical and mental illnesses and the more that people choose to speak out about their own experiences, this will help encourage others to do so – eventually reducing the stigma.'

Over the next few weeks, we will highlight some of the key areas where improvement is needed in the treatment of people in Norfolk and Suffolk, and attempt to raise awareness of the struggles people face.

Darren Eadie, the former Norwich City winger who has spoken in the past of his own mental health struggles, said: 'Talking and sharing your thoughts costs nothing and is the vital start to your recovery. It's the hardest step but certainly the most important.'

GET INVOLVED

There are numerous ways to get involved in our campaign.

They include...

Telling us about your experience of mental health. We would like to hear not only from patients but also from relatives, friends, carers and those who work in the sector.

Highlighting a scheme, project or individual doing something positive to help mental health sufferers.

Letting us know if you are campaigning for specific improvements where you live.

Signing up to our pledge HERETweeting your support and views using #mentalhealthwatch

If you want to get involved, email Investigations Editor David Powles at david.powles@archant.co.uk

MANIFESTO

We have identified 10 of the key areas where action is desperately needed to improve the situation around mental health. These are by no means all of them, but improvements would represent a start.

The areas are:

- Fairer funding locally and nationally;

- End the stigma;

- An end to out-of-area placements;

- Encourage schools to do more;

- Reduce waiting times in Norfolk and Suffolk;

- See the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) pull itself out of special measures;

- An end to the postcode-lottery of care;

- See the NSFT work as one trust, with the best schemes and projects rolled out everywhere;

- Reduce agency staff costs at the trust so the money can be diverted elsewhere;

- Raise awareness of mental health problems, symptoms and what to do.

We've already had a fantastic response to our campaign since it was launched last week. Here are some of the comments from social media and the message boards.

An excellent campaign. Very poignant, too – mental health was the second most-voted for item in the nationwide Make Your Mark Campaign in which over 900,000 young people voted in the UK Youth Parliament's manifesto.

Julie Durrant

Well done EDP for taking up what some would see as an unglamorous cause. Mental health is brushed under the carpet as if it were an embarrassment and is becoming more underfunded by the day.

Pauline Phillips

This is a great campaign. The treatment in this area isn't great. I'm aware of counsellors not attending appointments without even letting the patient know, and that's after having to wait months to see one. Imagine what that could do to someone with a fragile mind. GPs refer to the department as 'chaotic and disorganised'. Funding is desperately needed.

Martin

I agree with getting the help, but mental health needs a shake-up. It takes way too long to be seen. My daughter was referred by the doctor a month ago...she's still waiting for a appointment even though she's been to mental health before and they discharged her.

Amanda Poole

Great, well done. Could I also suggest you get some employers on board, too, especially the larger ones? They can also help with identification, signposting and support.

Ann Wardle

Well done. I don't suppose the government will pay much attention but thank you for bringing this long ignored situation to the fore.

Pippa Henry

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