Ed Miliband speech: YoungMinds reaction
Today, I attended a speech by Ed Miliband on mental health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Party Leaders talking about mental health and devoting entire speeches to it shows how much progress we are making in breaking down the barriers that have for too long seen mental health as a taboo subject.
Ed Miliband’s speech follows the parliamentary debate earlier this summer where for the first time we had MPs talking openly on the floor of the House of Commons about their own mental health. For too long mental health has been seen as a taboo ignored by politicians, the media and society generally as something to difficult and something to be left in the shadows.
If we are to create parity of esteem between mental and physical health then we need as a nation to start having conversations about mental health as Ed Miliband set out today.
An area of concern I had with the speech was the lack of focus on early intervention and children and young people’s mental health. The speech at times felt very adult focussed although there was a clear recognition of the role schools could play in supporting good emotional health. He did pick up a point that YoungMinds has been raising for sometime about how OFSTED inspectors have stopped assessing schools on the emotional wellbeing of pupils.
I was pleased however when I got to ask a question to Ed Miliband later on that he showed a good understanding of how important it was to start early in preventing mental illness. He compared the reaction of a teacher to someone with a physical health problem and someone with a mental health problem and said we needed to work to make these the same. He said he had been genuinely shocked to hear of the levels of mental illness among children and young people and for him this was a clear priority.
The challenge for us at YoungMinds with all policy makers that we interact with is to stress the importance of increasing emotional resilience among children so that we can create a mentally healthy future for the country.
Sarah Brennan is Chief Executive of YoungMinds