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£25,000 support for MPs to access mental health treatment

An annual budget has been approved to support MPs with mental health problems to access treatment, the Commons Members Estimate Committee (MEC) has announced.

It is difficult for MPs to access local services because of their high profile, so the £25,000 will provide a referrals service operated by doctors contracted at the House of Commons.

The funding follows a Commons debate in June 2012 on mental health, which saw several MPs speak openly about their own mental health issues. Separate legislation completed its passage through parliament on Monday to end a ban on people who have had serious mental health problems acting as MPs.

North Durham MP Kevan Jones MP said: “It’s not easy for MPs to go to their own GP to talk about issues such as depression or anxiety. I welcome this decision from the Members Estimate Committee to help remedy this situation.  This is not about preferential treatment. It’s about giving MPs the opportunity to find solutions here in Westminster and have access to the types of services available to their constituents.”

John Thurso MP, spokesman for the MEC, said: “All conscientious employers want to help those with mental health issues and often assistance in accessing help is the first vital step. Being an MP is a privilege but brings particular stresses as we heard in the debate in June. It is therefore appropriate for us to take this initiative to assist Members access the help they need.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “The stigma facing people with mental health problems often means that they do not access the support or services they need and deserve. Mind welcomes the MEC’s initiative to provide a service which will provide treatment to MPs which they otherwise may not get. Mind’s ‘Taking Care of Business’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace and what employers can do to achieve this.

“Our aim is that all workplaces, and the House of Commons is no exception, strive for a mentally healthy working environment.”

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