Labour has put mental health centre stage, recognising the important role it plays in all our lives.
This newly created role of shadow Minister for Mental Health is an opportunity to achieve the cross-departmental working on mental health that is vitally needed. The overwhelmingly positive response to the creation of the position highlights the strength of feeling across the country on this issue.
I’m pleased to have the opportunity to make this new role work for everyone affected by mental health.
This role plays to my own passionately-held beliefs that mental health must be given top priority, and that cuts to services harm vulnerable people. Over the past two years I have been campaigning for improved services and have worked hard to hold the government to account over their broken promises.
Reaching this decision was not easy. I cannot honestly say I agree with everything the new Leader of the Labour Party has said over the years. I had a full and frank discussion with Jeremy Corbyn about a number of topics before I accepted the position. I felt he was willing to listen and engage. I respect those colleagues who have decided to work from the backbenches for a Labour victory in 2020.
In the coming months, I will be focussing on campaigning in Parliament and across the country to raise the issue of mental health as well as continuing to work as hard as I always have for my constituents in Liverpool Wavertree.
I want to hold ministers to account and to develop Labour’s mental health policies, particularly to help prevent mental health difficulties developing in the first place, across the Department of Health, but also in work and pensions, education, defence and other relevant departments. I want the Prime Minister to understand the scale of the crisis and the need for urgent action.
We need fresh thinking on how to tackle the challenge of mental health in our society. We must achieve a cultural shift so that we end stigma and prejudice.