Mind BLMK at Westminster to 'raise the bar' for mental health in Bedfordshire Mind BLMK, local people with mental health problems and MPs come together to ‘raise the bar’ for mental health in Bedfordshire Our Chief Executive, Caroline Holman attended a parliamentary reception at Westminster last week to discuss the topic 'Mental Health - Raising The Bar' with around 50 MPs from across England and Wales. She was accompanied by one of our service users, Eamon Kugenieks, who went along to give his experience of support for mental health in our area. The event was organised by Mind National, with the aim of promoting conversations between people with mental health problems, local Minds responsible for providing services, and policymakers. Local MP, Alistair Burt, listened to the experiences of people affected by poor mental health and showed his commitment to ‘raising the bar’ for mental health services in Bedfordshire by putting his name to a pledge board. With a focus on how to improve preventative services, early intervention and better support for those in crisis, some excellent ideas were discussed. This parliamentary event comes at a key time. The Government recently accepted all the recommendations made within the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health – the five-year plan for improving services and support for people with mental health problems - and committed an additional £1 billion to transform mental health services between now and 2020/2021. NHS England is also now required to regularly share local data on mental health services through a new ‘mental health dashboard’, enabling anyone to hold them to account. The figures show whether or not local services are meeting their targets when it comes to a number of measures, such as access rates and waiting times for talking therapies. Caroline Holman, CEO at Mind BLMK, said: One in four people in Bedfordshire will experience a mental health problem in the coming year. Mental health problems can affect anyone, no matter what their background. The Government has recognised the scale of the problem and is increasing investment in mental health services over the next five years, but after years of underfunding, this additional money can’t come soon enough. There’s still a great deal of unmet need - every day we hear from people struggling to access the support they need. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to meet with Alistair Burt and that they listened to people’s first-hand experiences as well as finding out about some of the work we do to support people in the local community. By participating in this event, we hope that MPs recognise the importance of mental health and the vital role they play in ensuring that those of us living with mental health problems in Bedfordshire get the services and support we need to recover, stay well and lead fulfilling lives. Eamon Kugenieks, who accesses Mind BLMK services, said: I was honoured to be chosen to represent Mind BLMK at this event. I personally spoke to various MPs including Alistair Burt my local MP and impressed on them why Mental Health needs to be prioritised both locally and nationally, and left them in no doubt that there is so much more that needs to be done. Mind BLMK will continue to campaign for better mental health services for everyone in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. You can support us by joining the discussion with us on Facebook; by donating to one of our campaigns, or by volunteering.