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Labour's Shadow Public Health Minister warns that stigma around mental health must end

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14 Apr 2011

Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, has spoken out about the stigma around mental health, following the news that Catherine Zeta-Jones has been treated for manic depression over the stress of her husband Michael Douglas’s battle against cancer.

Ms Abbott has spoken out following a string of celebrities who have sought treatment for mental health issues, such as Zeta Jones, Michael Yardy, George Michael, Uma Thurman, Dame Kelly Holmes and Dancing On Ice star Denise Welch

Ms Abbott said:

‘These public figures who are coming forward to seek treatment for mental health issues show great courage and also give heart to millions of people who suffer in silence because of the fear of stigma and discrimination.

However, the problem with some of these cases is that sometimes they are reported with a shocking lack of sensitivity or consideration for how people will be affected.

Britain must learn from overseas, where attitudes to mental health and talking therapies are often very different.

In order to change negative attitudes to mental illness, the public needs to be aware of what it means, that it takes strength and courage it takes to live with, that it can be treated and managed.

It is of great concern that GPs and charities are reporting an increasing number of people struggling with debt and job worries, caused by this Tory-led government. It is important to understand that having a home and regular income is significant to mental health.

We must tackle the stigma around mental health, but I fear that the government is failing to provide adequate access to psychological therapies. This must change.

Care standards for people experiencing mental health problems must not be left behind.’

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