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Battling to give mental health sufferers the same treatment as other patients

December 7, 2014 11:22 AM
By Cllr Jack Cohen in Barnet Press

Councillor Jack CohenEARLIER this week I heard about an email alert concerning a "weird" looking person seen in the road. I think it meant to say "someone behaving suspiciously".

Language is so important - and never more so than when it comes to the issue of mental health. Too many people with mental health problems are being detained in police cells or end up in prison.

That is why I want to pay tribute to Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb, who has made it his job to tackle the scandalous treatment of mentally ill people.

I think, according to the statistics, something like one in four people will, at some time in their lives, suffer from mental health problems.

Mr Lamb uses the term "parity of esteem" to highlight the differential treatment between physical and mental illness. Mental health patients do not have the same rights as patients with a physical condition.

Believe it or not, this is enshrined in the NHS constitution. There is no target time to be seen by a consultant. Indeed the consultant can decline to see the patient.

Mr Lamb intends to sweep all of this away. Mental health will be placed on a par with physical illness - and about time to. Mr Lamb deserves credit for tackling an issue that for so long has remained hidden in the shadows.