Backbench Business — [1st Allotted Day]
Paul Burstow (Minister of State (Care Services), Health; Sutton and Cheam, Liberal Democrat)
There is no health without mental health. In that simple statement I sum up the coalition Government’s approach to mental health.
In contributing to this important debate, I start by congratulating my hon. Friends the Members for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan) and for Broxbourne (Mr Walker), among others, on tirelessly pursuing the case for having this debate on the Floor of the House. It is one of the rare debates that we have on this subject, and it clearly airs the issues that are so important to so many of our fellow citizens.
Mr Jones said that it was a privilege to have the job—the vocation—of being a Member of Parliament, and I could not agree with him more. Sometimes, that privilege involves the surprise that we can still experience in the Chamber when debates are genuinely authentic and when people speak from the heart. I thank him for his candour and honesty; we need more of that. The chair of the all-party parliamentary group on mental health, my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne, talked, with humour and much besides, about his experience with obsessive
compulsive disorder. Anyone living and struggling with such conditions, who has not perhaps reached the point of wanting to talk about it, will feel huge respect for both Members for bringing the attention of the House to these matters. They have made us all wake up to something that we ought to know, but that we too often forget. That is that mental health is not a “them and us” game; it is about us—all of us. It touches us all in one way or another.
I am probably not going to be able to do justice to every contribution in the debate, not least those that I have not yet heard, but I assure hon. Members that I will continue to listen throughout the remainder of the debate, and that if any issues arise that I have not covered in this speech, I will write to the Members concerned to address those points.
Jim Shannon made some important points about the support for our veterans, and for our armed forces more generally. This Government have done a lot in that regard—not least the commissioning by the Prime Minister of my hon. Friend Dr Murrison to produce his report, “Fighting Fit: a mental health plan for servicemen and veterans”. The report deals with many of these issues, and the Government take them, and the action that they require, very seriously.