Kevan Jones MP has agreed to host a meeting for us on mental wellbeing in the 21st century. He is one of the first MPs to come out openly about his own battle against depression and the difficulty of speaking out.
In the 21st century we are beginning to change our attitudes towards mental wellbeing. We know that one in four of us will face mental health problems in our lifetime and we also know that the pressures of modern life can adversely affect the wellbeing of us all.
And yet we are often cautious over discussing mental wellbeing openly in the way we do our physical state of health. In this meetup we want to open up the discussion so we understand mental wellbeing better and to see what we can do to make it more prominent on the Government’s agenda. To help us with this we have as speakers,
Kevan Jones is the MP for North Durham and was a Minister in the Ministry of Defence in the last Government. He spoke out about his mental health problems in the House of Commons. Two Conservative MPs also spoke about their own situations. Kevan Jones appealed for a change of culture that would make it easier for other people, including fellow MPs, to reveal their mental health problems, without it being viewed as a sign of weakness., and without them being discriminated against. For this he received considerable support and praise.
And there are other high profile celebrities coming forward : Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax to name but two, having the courage to speak out and lift the lid on what has for too long been unnecessarily hidden.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive Officer MIND - the leading mental health charity working in England and Wales since May 2006. Paul is Chair of the Disabilities Charities Consortium, Vice-Chair of the Department of Health Talking Therapies Programme Board and Chair of the Equalities and Diversity Forum panel on human rights. Paul is a trustee at the Mental Health Providers Forum, an umbrella body for voluntary organisations supporting people with mental distress. He was a trustee for the Directory of Social Change, a campaigning voluntary organisation that provides the sector with training and publications.Before becoming Chief Executive of Mind, Paul was Director of Public Affairs for Rethink and was Chair of the Mental Health Alliance from 2001-2006.
Mark Rice-Oxley is an assistant news editor on the foreign desk of The Guardian. He spent a decade as a foreign correspondent working in Paris, Moscow and other parts of Eastern Europe before joining the Guardian on its foreign desk in 2004. On paper, things looked good for Mark: wife, children, fulfilling job. But then, at his 40th birthday party, his whole world crumbled as he succumbed to depression. He has written a book “Underneath the Lemon Tree: A Memoir of Depression and Recovery,” which can be found here at amazon.co.uk
After the House of Commons revelations, one Conservative MP pledged to introduce a backbench bill to scrap “archaic” laws, relating to mental health. They prevented mentally- ill people running firms, becoming school governors and undertaking jury service – and forced MPs to lose their seats.
When the pressures and stresses of our present century are creating strains and often dysfunction, then creating an understanding that we may all suffer in some way or the other is important, and will place mental wellbeing as something that concerns us all. We hope this discussion will help in the process of changing attitudes.
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