IS IT just possible that mental health is about to come out of the shadows and become recognised as a prime cause of health inequalities and needing much greater priority and increased expenditure?

Given that one in four of us will suffer from mental health issues during our lifetime it is surprising that this aspect of health has always received a lower priority despite the cost to the individual, employers and the state. 

As someone who has a son who trained as a community psychiatric nurse and who has had personal experiences of mental health and the walls that can get put in your way when seeking help, I do know of the travails that you can be put through.

There are many and complex reasons why mental health has traditionally been a Cinderella subject. 

Quite simply society has failed to live up to its responsibilities in this area and accordingly resources have never been sufficiently allocated to cope with the number and depth of the difficulties this illness brings.

I have taken a close interest in mental health since I was previously the MP forming a group of practitioners and users to isolate, analyse and highlight a better understanding of what was happening locally and what else might be done to bring forward better strategies to cope.

What we found was that there were still far too many unknowns in terms of the role of psychiatry, the powers to restrain someone under the mental health acts, and that early intervention, whilst the best way to treat conditions was never funded sufficiently to make inroads on how to bear down on conditions.

The position of children was particularly acute. 

The CAHMS (child and adolescent mental health service) has faced dramatic cuts over recent times and this has resulted in many young people either not receiving the treatment they need or facing considerable delays in accessing help. 

From my early case work returns, that remains very much the situation today, except that concerns are much heightened.

Both main political parties have begun to take mental health more seriously with much clearer ministerial responsibilities, the promise of more money and notional ring fencing of NHS resources to protect existing budgets. 

However there is a long way to go before we can believe that we are on the right road to confronting this illness and make sure that those who suffer receive the support and care they desperately need. 

We all have tales of family members, friends and colleagues who have had their lives lessened if not ruined by the impact and stigma of mental health. 

This must change if we are to dignify how we treat those affected and recognise that mental health should be of primary importance in how we design a health service fit for this century.

David Drew

MP for the Stroud constituency