Bishop of St Albans highlights mental health link to poverty, and raises deprivation in rural areas

On 14th December 2017 Lord Bird asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to address the root causes of poverty and disadvantage in the United Kingdom.” In the short debate on the question, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke about the link between poverty and mental health, and also the need for action on rural deprivation:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for this debate. I want to make just a couple of points in the time I have.

Plenty of statistics have been bandied around today, and I can quote even more: 14 million people, by some counts, are living in poverty in this country, including 4 million children. The trouble with those and other statistics is that they hide the individual lives they represent: for example, the three men, whom many of us have seen, in sleeping bags in Westminster Tube station as I came in at 8 am yesterday morning; or Joe—not his real name—whom I met this morning in St Peter’s Street in St Albans as I went out to get my morning paper. There has been a visible increase in the number of people on our streets in places such as St Albans over recent months. I have got to know a number of them, and this morning, knowing I was coming in for this debate, I thought I had to sit and talk to Joe just for a minute. I felt I could not in all conscience come and speak on a subject such as this without actually finding out his name and just a little about his story. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans highlights mental health link to poverty, and raises deprivation in rural areas”

Bishop of Worcester says church can help society improve mental health services for black and ethnic minority communities

On 28th November 2017  Lord Boateng led a debate in the House of Lords “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in improving mental health services for people from black and ethnic minority communities.” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I, too, am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Boateng, for securing this debate and, like the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, pay tribute not only to his eloquent introduction but to all he has done in this area. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.​
Some of the evidence which has already been cited—there is lots more— concerning black and minority-ethnic individuals and mental health is a dreadful indictment of our society. One of the most shocking statistics to me is that UK minority-ethnic individuals are 40% more likely than white Britons to come into contact with mental health services through the criminal justice system rather than through referral from GPs or talking therapies. Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester says church can help society improve mental health services for black and ethnic minority communities”

Bishop of Worcester asks Government to improve mental health treatment and tackle stigma

On 28th November 2017 Baroness Wheeler asked Her Majesty’s Government “what actions they are taking to address the concerns raised by the Care Quality Commission in its review published in October about the particular difficulties faced by children and young people in vulnerable circumstances, such as looked-after children and those with learning disabilities, in accessing mental health care.” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: Does the Minister agree that there remains, despite lots of good work, a terrible stigma attached to mental health problems? Will he assure us that the Government are committed to tackling it, as we seek to do in the Church, while also improving provision for identification and treatment? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester asks Government to improve mental health treatment and tackle stigma”

Bishop of Durham asks about impact on vulnerable of changes to NHS charging rules

On 2nd November 2017 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to a question about the impact of changes to NHS charging on refused asylum seekers, trafficking victims, the homeless and those with mental health problems: 

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact of changes to NHS charging regulations on refused asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups, including (1) victims of trafficking, (2) homeless people, and (3) those living with mental health conditions. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about impact on vulnerable of changes to NHS charging rules”

Bishop of St Albans asks whether workplace chaplains can help employees experiencing mental health issues

On 1st November 2017 Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their response to the review of mental health and employers, Thriving at Work, published on 26 October.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there are many valuable statistics in the report, but also some quite worrying ones. Apparently 35% of the people interviewed thought that if they had had depression they would be far less likely to get any sort of promotion, while half of those interviewed said that they would not be willing to discuss mental health issues with their line manager. First, in the light of that, is there not a pressing need for a new public mental health awareness campaign? Secondly, will the Minister look into the contribution that workplace chaplaincy can make to addressing this problem? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks whether workplace chaplains can help employees experiencing mental health issues”

Archbishop asks for better early intervention in children’s mental health services

On 30th October 2017 Baroness Walmsley asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they are taking to ensure that children and young people can obtain timely access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services”. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, asked a follow up question:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: I declare an interest as having members of the family who have used child and adolescent mental health services. Does the Minister not agree that the fundamental principle of the NHS is free treatment at the point of need? Does he also agree that one of the major failures in CAMHS—it has been well evidenced by academic studies over the last two years—has been that, because of the shortage of resources, only those with the most critical needs are treated at all, and the early intervention which would help prevent needs becoming critical has been deeply neglected owing to an absence or lack of specialised therapies, particularly talking therapies? Will he confirm that the work on the most critical side is going to be extended so that children and adolescents can get care earlier and more effectively, saving the state money and fulfilling the purposes of the NHS? Continue reading “Archbishop asks for better early intervention in children’s mental health services”

Bishop of Rochester raises effect of prison overcrowding on mental health

On 7th September 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, “That this House takes note of the level of overcrowding in prisons.” The Bishop of Rochester, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop for prisons, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I too am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, for bringing this debate. I rather wish that the slight slip of the tongue of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, in first referring to the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, as a former Minister for prisons had been true, but there we are.

I recall a visit in my capacity as Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons, to one of our prisons and encountering a young man who was visibly distressed and disturbed, sitting against a wall with his hands over his ears, unable to cope with the general noise and hubbub on a prison wing—not least an overcrowded prison wing. I talked to one of the officers on that wing, who was relatively newly recruited and new in post; he was clearly there because of a really positive motivation, wanting to make a difference and with a vocation to work in the Prison Service. However, he was very conscious that because of responsibility to the whole wing, he was unable to give that distressed young prisoner the focused attention that was required. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester raises effect of prison overcrowding on mental health”