Much to do on mental health and autism

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week.

By Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed
Thursday, 23 May, 2019, 16:46
Puffins on the Farne Islands. Picture by Jane Coltman

One in four people in the UK will suffer from mental ill health every year, and it is vital that when we are unwell we feel able to speak out and get the help we need to manage our lives.

The challenge of ‘invisible’ illness to societal support is one which this Government is now tackling.

I am extremely proud that this Government is funding mental health services with an additional £2.3billion over the next five years, enabling services to expand and create faster access to community and crisis mental health services for adults, children and young people.

I am also delighted that we are now focusing on dedicated mental health support for our veterans and their families. These fantastic men and women give so much to their country to keep us safe so it is only right that we support them when they are suffering from mental ill health.

Help is available from both the NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service or the NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service.

There is much to do to ensure we provide the right care and support, and I am proud of the wonderful North East charity Forward Assist, which is focusing its research work this year on female veterans’ mental ill health.

My ongoing work for the APPG for Autism involved chairing an inquiry into our criminal justice system and how those with autism experience it. It was a hugely informative session and there is much to improve.

I would encourage all constituents with autism, or family members and carers, who use services locally to respond to the Health and Education Departments’ consultation into the National Autism Strategy. More information can be found on the gov.uk website at https://tinyurl.com/y2jj5tal

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Our wonderful coastline and fabulous wildlife continues to be monitored by the National Trust, which will now be monitoring puffin numbers on the Farne Islands annually.

Although the latest census shows puffin numbers are stable, increasing by around nine per cent since 2013, the decision has been taken to monitor them more closely to see if trends emerge, giving the trust a chance of finding ways to mitigate against any negative effects from a decline in the puffins’ main source of food.

I am seeking to hold a debate to highlight this important work in monitoring our local bird populations and ensuring their welfare and numbers in the future.

Some constituents will be aware of major changes to general licences for controlling wild bird species.

Three general licences were revoked as of April 25, and I have been in close liaison with Defra and Natural England on the appalling way in which they have dealt with this and put constituents at risk. Colleagues and I are holding the Secretary of State for Defra to account, with weekly meetings so that changes to be made and the new licensing framework will work in practice for our rural community which looks after our countryside and earns a living from it.

I was thrilled to be invited to our very own Fusiliers’ St George’s Day Parade on April 27 in Alnwick, and to the ANZAC Remembrance Ceremony at Chevington Cemetery.

I am passionate about our armed forces, what they do for us and the risks they take to defend us all and our nation’s values.

To watch the soldiers parade and hear their enthusiasm and commitment to their military service is all the more moving when juxtaposed against the remembrance ceremony in a small graveyard where young men who died defending us in World War II as pilots, flight engineers and navigators are laid to rest, thousands of miles from their homes and families.