“He told MPs he felt the need to “operate to the rule of four”

MPS BACK MENTAL HEALTH Sunday January 13,2013

A GROUP of Tory MPs will launch a collection of personal and poignant essays on Tuesday about their views and experiences of mental health.

A Commons debate took place last June The booklet, Making Up Our Minds: Towards Improving Our Approach To Mental Health, contains eight powerfully written pieces that deal with a wide range of issues, including the care of military veterans, the role of the voluntary sector, the risks surrounding reality television and the importance of early intervention, particularly for children.

They were compiled by Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris after a year in which major breakthroughs were made in mental health issues.

The launch of the Sunday Express Crusade for Mental Health last February was the first attempt by a mid-market newspaper to tackle the taboo surrounding the issue and it culminated in a special Mind award in November.

That launch was followed four months later by an extraordinary debate in the House of Commons when a series of MPs discussed their own personal histories with mental illnesses.

One of those whose efforts won widespread applause was Charles Walker, the Conservative MP for Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, who chairs the all party group on mental health.

In last June’s debate he spoke of his almost daily battles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a condition he joked had made him a “practising fruitcake for 31 years”.

He told MPs he felt the need to “operate to the rule of four, so I have to do everything in evens. I have to wash my hands four times and I have to go in and out of a room four times”.

The reaction to the debate was huge and campaigners believe it has helped change perceptions among ordinary constituents.

Mr Walker, 45, and a father of three, now says the speech was a seminal moment in his life, that talking about his problem in public was a “huge weight” off his shoulders.

The title of his own touching essay, published for the first time, is A Time For Optimism. Two other essays, by Oliver Coleville and John Glen, call on the Government to produce a more coherent strategy to help military veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Andrea Leadsom emphasises the importance of early intervention for children. Nicky Morgan, who organised last June’s Commons debate, writes about the need for a strong voluntary sector in mental health care, while Matthew Offord warns about reality television. In his foreword to the essays, Mr Morris writes: “The way we deal with mental health in the future will say much about our values as a society.”

The essays will be available at jamesmorrismp.com on Tuesday.

Credit: Sunday Daily Express Newspaper.

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