October 10th marks World Mental Health Day for 2020, and James has been reflecting on the additional challenges that have been caused this year as a result of the Covid 19 lockdown.
The last seven months have brought about many challenges, including for health care workers worried about taking the virus home to loved ones, pupils and students having to adapt to learning from home, workers anxious about losing their jobs and those in vulnerable groups with worries about continued access to their support networks.
Despite lockdown restrictions being eased, many people are still unable to meet with friends of family in person, and many are still concerned about their jobs or livelihoods as the economic impact of Covid 19 begins to take effect.
"2020 has brought about unexpected and unprecedented challenges for many people, and this year some people who have never experienced serious mental health challenges may have had to seek help for the first time", said James.
"I would like to use World Mental Health Day as an opportunity to encourage those suffering from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or any of the other symptoms of poor mental health to seek support. Reaching out and talking to someone is a positive first step and there are many organisations that are there to help.
"I would also like to thank everyone who works in the mental health sector, particularly as 2020 will have been a very busy and challenging for them too. The support they have provided will have helped to change lives, and in some cases save lives, and the work they do is invaluable."
Since becoming an MP in 20210, James has taken active interest in mental health, including serving as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Mental Health during his first term. He has hosted roundtable events in Westminster and in the constituency to bring healthcare providers and charities together to increase awareness, end the stigma around mental health, and improve and increase the range of support available.
If you or a loved one are suffering from health issues, please visit the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/ which includes links to specific organisations for different conditions.