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Mental Health Minister comes to South Lakeland
On Friday morning Health Minister Norman Lamb MP will be visiting two mental health charities in South Lakeland - South Lakeland Mind and Growing Well.

South Lakeland Mind was facing closure in December. This would have left vulnerable people without support over the Christmas period. The local community have helped to fundraise the £60,000 which was needed in the short term to help keep them going. But while that has bought time, Mind face a difficult year ahead securing longer term support so that they can keep helping everyone who needs them. Tim and Norman will meet service users and staff, and talk about the HELP fundraising campaign.

Growing Well operates from a 6 acre site at Low Sizergh Farm near Kendal. People recovering from mental health problems help grow around 15 tonnes of organic vegetables each year, which are sold through a Crop Share (Vegetable Bag) scheme. Growing Well’s provision is free for anyone with a mental health problem, and they are developing their support for children as well as adults.

Jonathan Ingram, Chief Officer of South Lakeland Mind, said: “It is now 4 months since we launched the HELP campaign, and we have come a long way. The public came out for South Lakeland Mind. But short-term survival is one thing – the more difficult and enduring challenge is to ensure that the charity builds for the long term in difficult times. Part of that is about making sure that all those people who have been such good friends stay there for us. Then we can keep helping the people who need us.”

Tim said: “Tackling the stigma which surrounds mental health is a priority for me. Over the last year I have worked hard to support charities and organisations locally, while asking a team of experts to look at what we can do to help improve services throughout Cumbria. “I’m proud that last year we helped save South Lakeland Mind and I want to thank every single person who donated, helped or supported this campaign. The public reaction was totally overwhelming. I’m also looking forward to taking Norman to Growing Well, so he can see the fantastic services they offer at first hand."

Last year, Tim commissioned a report to review how services operating in Cumbria could provide better support for young people called 'Born in South Lakeland - developing emotionally resilient children'. The review found there was a stigma around talking about a young person's mental health and that mental health services didn't receive the same treatment or funding as taking care of physical health. It called on public sector staff to take personal responsibility for cases, a self-harm working group to be set up and an expansion of schemes to stop young people putting themselves at risk online.

The report was researched over an eight month period by an independent panel consisting of Glenys Marriott, the former chairwoman of South Tees NHS Hospitals Trust board, sixth form student Zoe Butler, an Inspira young adviser for South Lakeland, and John Asher, leader of the Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide group in the area. Nationally, the Liberal Democrats believe mental health should not be ignored or stigmatised. It should be taken as seriously as physical health.

We are using £400 million to help people with mental health problems get the right support early on, such as talking or psychological therapies. We are also introducing waiting limits, so people will know for the first time how long they have to wait for mental health treatment.