Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, announced this week that Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, has been selected as the first Shadow Minister for Mental Health, in a move that has been welcomed by online counselling service PlusGuidance.

Berger will work with her colleagues under the supervision of Corbyn to establish how a future Labour government would utilise institutions to best address mental health.

Corbyn said he was “delighted” to create a cabinet position for an issue he has long been interested in and that “timely and appropriate” treatment was the biggest priority for mental healthcare right now.

Director of PlusGuidance, Nathaniel Smithies, said Corbyn’s decision to create a new cabinet post is a step in the right direction: “The demand for mental health treatment in the UK is as high as ever today. We are therefore encouraged by Mr Corbyn’s decision to take the issue seriously by appointing a minister for mental health, who will work to raise further awareness for an issue that affects 25% of people in the UK.”

Currently one in four people experience a mental health issue each year in the UK, with anxiety and depression the most common according to the Mental Health Foundation. However this figure could rise over the next few years with the increasing number of people openly speaking to health professionals about these concerns.

Smithies continues: “Mental health has been a taboo topic for too long – something that people have been afraid to talk about. One of our aims at PlusGuidance is to speak openly with people and provide solutions for moving forward with free online counselling sessions with the upmost discretion.  An advantage of having an online platform is its accessibility to a diverse audience on a daily basis so people can receive counselling within the comfort of their own home.”

However, Smithies believes that the Conservative government still needs to do more to address the issue: “Hopefully in time we will see the government outline their own plan for tackling mental health – which they pledged in their manifesto before the election. Over the last five years, the NHS has seen its mental health budget for children and adolescents fall by almost £50 million in England. Therefore the onus is on the Prime Minister to invest the £1bn he promised to improve mental health services by 2020.  It will also be interesting to see whether the Prime Minister follows Mr Corbyn’s lead and establishes a cabinet position within the Government to deal directly with the issue.”

PlusGuidance is a free, online counselling service providing therapists with a platform to interact with their existing customers from across the world. 

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