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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Getting our message across

By the end of the final party conference, you begin to feel a certain sense of déjà vu with similar issues being raised with all three parties, in similar looking conference venues. This is not necessarily a bad thing though as it’s important that politicians of all political persuasions are made aware of the key issues for people affected by mental illness and professionals working in the sector.

 

At Conservative conference in Birmingham, in addition to individual meetings, we did some more great joint work with NGOs and were able to put across a united front at meetings with parliamentarians and be part of a strong voice on mental health. As well as our own roundtable meeting on parity, which was attended by MPs, healthcare professionals, charities and service users, the College attended meetings on a range of topics, including commissioning, obesity, early intervention and medical education. I was also able to attend a public debate on health and was interested to hear Health Committee Chair, Stephen Dorrell, and the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee arguing the pros and cons of the recent changes to the NHS and what the future may hold.

 

Whilst the Chancellor seems not for turning on the issue of welfare reform, it is still top of the agenda for many people with mental health problems, and their families, and many of the MPs we spoke with recognised that there is room for improvement in the current system.

Whilst it was a shame that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt didn’t directly refer to mental health in his speech to conference (http://www.cpc12.org.uk/Speeches/Jeremy_Hunt.aspx) it was positive to hear him flag up dementia and the importance of care as two areas he wants to focus on.

 

I feel it is vital that the College attends these conferences to represent our members and service users and fight for continued improvements in mental health. We used the opportunity to discuss important issues with colleagues from across the healthcare sector and with local and national politicians. At all meetings and debates we attended we ensured that the importance mental health was flagged at every opportunity.

 

I have the sense that the message on parity is beginning to get through; that there is no health without public mental health. Now is the time for you to tell local politicians why psychiatrists are so important to the health of the nation.

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