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This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which highlights the importance of good mental health, and how we can make it easier for people to get the right support they need.

Even if we haven’t personally experienced poor mental health, few of us can be in any doubt about the scale of the issue.

The figures speak for themselves – almost one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem each year. Those affected may face a shorter life expectancy, while the estimated cost of mental health problems to the UK economy is a staggering £70 –100 billion per year.

Given the profound personal, social and economic impact poor mental health can have, it is vitally important that we all play a role – politicians, businesses, and the public alike – in improving support for people with mental ill health.

While making it easier to talk about mental health is an essential first step - it’s not enough. People must also be able to access the support they need as quickly as possible.

Despite the government pledging to achieve a ‘parity of esteem’ between physical and mental health care, there have been some worrying trends which bring this commitment into question.

I recently pressed government ministers on the key issues facing mental health services, but their responses suggested a failure to acknowledge the extent and complexity of the crisis in mental health care.

Growing numbers of mental health nurses are leaving the profession, while funding cuts mean that remaining staff feel overstretched and unable to care for their patients.

Too many patients across the country – including children and young adults - are being sent hundreds of miles from their home in order to receive treatment. Being so far away from support networks can have a negative impact on their recovery, and make the experience even more stressful for loved ones.

Although the government talks of its ‘ambitions’ to improve the state of mental health care, there is little to suggest this is becoming a reality.

This is particularly true when it comes to children’s mental health, where the government is being warned that its plans could in fact lead to thousands of young people unable to access the vital care they need.

If we are serious about making sure that those experiencing mental health difficulties can talk openly about it, and more importantly, get the help they need - ministers must match their words on ‘parity of esteem’ with action.

To read this article in the Sunderland Echo, click here

Bridget Phillipson MP: Government must do more to improve mental health care

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which highlights the importance of good mental health, and how we can make it easier for people to get the right support they...

In recent weeks, people up and down the country have been rightly shocked to learn of the callous treatment received by the Windrush generation.

These were people who came from the Caribbean at the invitation of the British Government following the Second World War, to help rebuild the UK after years of conflict.

Since then, they have continued to make an enormous contribution to our society and vital public services.

That’s why the stories of those who have been denied medical treatment or threatened with deportation have been so disturbing to hear.

Despite living and working in the UK for years, paying taxes, and calling our country their home, many have been treated as second-class citizens.

What makes these tales of injustice worse is the fact that the government was warned that this would be the likely result of the ‘hostile environment’ policy introduced by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.

Ministers themselves knew these changes were likely to affect the Windrush generation, many of whom have never had to prove their status – yet they ploughed on regardless.

It is only after weeks of growing public outrage that the Prime Minister has finally apologised for the distress caused. Even then, she has failed to accept that this sorry saga was not due to an administrative error, but was the result of her own decisions.

While the government must now be held to account on its promises to support those affected, it also needs to be clear about the road ahead.

Such a task is pressing in the wake of the EU referendum, as European citizens living in the UK look at the treatment of the Windrush generation with growing concern.

We need an immigration system that is fair, humane and treats people with respect – rather than with hostility and suspicion.

We should also recognise the positive impact made by those who have made this country their home.

From the doctors and nurses working in our NHS, to the international students who study here for a short time yet make such a valuable contribution to the life and economy of our city.

Our region, and country as a whole, is a fundamentally decent and welcoming place.

The contribution of migrants has helped to drive our economy and vital public services over many, many decades.

It is perfectly possible for government to balance controls on migration that are in keeping with our values and traditions – and that is now the test for ministers.

To read this article in the Sunderland Echo click here

Bridget Phillipson MP: Windrush crisis shows we need a fairer system

In recent weeks, people up and down the country have been rightly shocked to learn of the callous treatment received by the Windrush generation.


On 20 April I had the pleasure of meeting Abbie and Mark from the Durham Wildlife Trust to talk about their work to preserve our local environment.

Durham Wildlife Trust are currently running a campaign called ‘My Wild Sunderland’, which aims to gather 10,000 pledges from people in the Sunderland area to demonstrate the need for a greener, wilder Sunderland.

I know that many people love the natural environment that surrounds our beautiful community. Places such as Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve, Herrington Country Park and Hetton Lyons Park not only offer local people somewhere to relax and enjoy themselves, but also provide a safe haven for wildlife.

That’s why I’m supporting this important campaign. If you’d like to sign the DWT pledge too, go to https://durhamwt.com/mywildsunderland/.

Later in the day my colleague Julie Elliott MP and I met with Derek Winter, Senior Coroner for the City of Sunderland, to discuss his role and the work he and his team are doing to support families who have lost a loved one.

Derek and his team do a really difficult job in challenging circumstances. Julie and I want to salute their efforts to make sure those people get the support they need when they need it.

Bridget Phillipson MP: Durham Wildlife Trust

On 20 April I had the pleasure of meeting Abbie and Mark from the Durham Wildlife Trust to talk about their work to preserve our local environment.


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