Paul Jenkins, the CEO of England’s largest mental health membership charity Rethink Mental Illness, has warned that cuts and changes to the benefits system, mean people with mental health problems are living through some of the toughest times they have ever known.
His comments come as MPs prepare for the first ever full general debate on mental health in The House of Commons, set to take place today (Thursday 14 June).
Jenkins said: “This is an extremely anxious and worrying time for the many thousands of the people we work with. Many of our members who are unable to work as a result of an illness such as schizophrenia, are terrified at the prospect of having their benefits reassessed, using a system the government itself admits is deeply flawed.
"On top of this, we have seen local government cuts to vital services starting to bite, and we know this is just the beginning. This means that people are losing out on support in the community which helps prevent them from hitting crisis point and being detained in hospital.
“These challenges mean people with mental health problems today, are facing the toughest times they have ever known.
“We welcome this debate, it’s long overdue. When you consider that one in four people will have a mental health problem at some point in their lives, it’s incredible that there’s never been a general debate about it before.
“This is not a niche issue, it affects us all. Everyone knows someone who has a mental illness, although many people aren’t aware of it, because of the stigma which still surrounds it.
“I hope MPs will use this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the many thousands of people who are quietly suffering across the country. People with severe mental illnesses aren’t always able to stand up and speak out, but it doesn’t mean these injustices aren’t happening.”
For more information, please contact Rachel Whitehead, News and Media Manager for Rethink Mental Illness on 0207 840 3138 or email Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.
For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness.
We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.
We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.
For more information go to www.rethink.org
News and Media Manager, Rethink Mental Illness
0207 840 3138
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Rethink Mental Illness is the operating name of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England Number 1227970. Registered charity no. 271028. Registered Office 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP.