Support desperately needed
I recently read about a survey of more than 1,000 GPs in which it was found that 40% of all their appointments involved mental health.
Two-thirds of those GPs said the number of people needing support with mental health issues had increased during the past year.
Anyone can become mentally unwell at some point in their lifetime. There has been much in the media recently about the importance of shedding the stigma around mental health, further highlighted when Prince Harry spoke openly of his regret in not having sought help earlier.
It is a sad irony that a positive change in attitudes to mental health is coinciding locally with the suspension of services at Newark Mind because of a lack of funding.
An assumption is often made that charities can pick up the reins when provision is lost through public sector funding cuts and statutory services becoming overwhelmed, but charities also require funds and the withdrawal of even quite modest financial support can have a devastating impact on a small local charity.
As the Newark Town Council delegate to the board of Newark Mind, I have nothing but respect for the staff, volunteers and trustees for their commitment to supporting local people.
I have also had the opportunity to talk with many service users and have learned just how much they value contact with the charity as a positive step towards the recovery needed for confidence in everyday living.
I know that the decision to suspend services has not been taken lightly and has caused great sadness to many.
I sincerely hope that sufficient funding may yet be forthcoming to support Newark Mind into a sustainable future.
The truth is that any of us could potentially find ourselves unexpectedly needing its services, as the 300% rise in people using the charity in recent months has shown. — Cathy Barker-Powell, Newark town councillor (Lab).