What World Mental Health Day means to me


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Today (Tuesday 10 October) is World Mental Health Day.  I love these annual awareness raising events, and I'll be tweeting away all day.  But - I can't help also thinking "and then what?" 

I was recently selected to stand for the Liberal Democrats in the local elections next year: in Oval Ward, Lambeth.  And now I'm thinking about what I can do to use my campaign (and, if I'm lucky enough, my position as a councillor) to improve mental health services in Lambeth.  I'm especially keen to hear from local residents on the topic of mental health, and what they need and want from mental health services. 

Back in 2012, following many years of depressive episodes, I was hospitalised with a very severe mental illness: Postpartum Psychosis.  My baby and I were lucky enough to get a place in a Mother and Baby Unit, at the Bethlem Royal Hospital (part of the South London and Maudsley NHS trust).  After 12 weeks as an inpatient, and recovering well from the horrifying Psychosis, I felt truly lucky to be alive.  I left psychiatric hospital with an immense amount of gratitude, a long term diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and a realisation that not everyone is so lucky.   

I've been able to use much of the last five years to tell our story, to help reduce the stigma of mental illness, and campaign across the country for better mental health services.   I've spoken out to large medical conferences, training events, in Parliament, told the Duchess of Cambridge of my experience (pictured in the tweet below) and even helped the EastEnders team with Stacey's Postpartum psychosis storyline!

 

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Kathryn, right, on the EastEnders set with James Bye, who plays Martin Fowler, Lacey Turner, who plays Stacey Slater, and fellow campaigner Eve Canavan

Awareness around mental health and mental illness has improved. Recent initiatives such as the Government's plan to train at least one Mental Health First Aider for each secondary school in England are very welcome developments - but I know we can do better!  

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Liberal Democrat council candidates selected for Oval and Thurlow Park wards

The first six Liberal Democrat candidates who will fight for election to Lambeth Council next May have been confirmed. 

Stéphane Croce, Kathryn Grant and Mike Hillier will stand in Oval ward, Vauxhall.  Doug Buist, Kathy Erasmus and Bryan Mahon hope to become councillors for Thurlow Park, Dulwich and West Norwood. 

 Mike, Kathryn and Stéphane will stand in Oval ward

Stéphane, Kathryn and Mike will stand in Oval ward

With interests, expertise and experience across a range of topics, including housing, transport, cycling, mental health, childcare and small business ownership, they are committed to campaigning for a better Lambeth and to return a Liberal Democrat presence to the council. 

Peter Truesdale, chair of Lambeth Liberal Democrats, said: "Lambeth needs change. We are fighting for change for Lambeth."

Find out how you can help the campaign on our Volunteer page.

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Kate Hoey votes with Tories on EU Withdrawal Bill

Vauxhall’s Brexit-supporting Labour MP Kate Hoey this week voted against her own party and backed handing sweeping powers to the Government.

Ms Hoey was one of seven Labour rebels to vote with Theresa May’s Tories on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

A strong general election campaign by the Liberal Democrats earlier this year, standing up for the 78% of Lambeth voters who voted to Remain in the EU, put pressure on Ms Hoey over her record on Europe.

She had shifted significantly in her policy by polling day, putting on her literature her support for EU citizens’ rights and signing up to Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer’s plan for Brexit.

Her support for Labour’s plan did not extend to supporting her own party when it came to Monday’s late night vote, however.

George Turner, who stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in June, said: "Throughout the General Election Campaign Ms Hoey turned up to public events clutching the Labour manifesto, praising Sir Kier Starmer and promising to vote with Labour on brexit. That has now been exposed as a cold and cynical lie." 
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George Turner reflects on the election campaign

Thursday night was a difficult night in Vauxhall. Although we managed to increase significantly the Liberal Democrat vote share, we still fell a long way short of victory. Here are a few reflections about this campaign which I wanted to share with you.

What we set out to achieve

From the beginning of this campaign I had one objective. To hold Kate Hoey to account for her record on Europe and her clear and very public associations with the hard right. I wanted us to provide a voice for many people in this constituency who believed they had been seriously misrepresented by the actions of their MP.

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Final push to polling day to make George Turner Vauxhall’s next MP

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After an intense five weeks of campaigning, the final push is on to get George Turner elected.

Volunteers have knocked on thousands of doors meeting voters and delivered tens of thousands of leaflets for Vauxhall’s Lib Dem candidate since the election was called.

After the suspension of campaigning on Sunday following the awful events at London Bridge, supporters are now delivering the last batches of leaflets as undecided voters make up their minds.

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Campaigning Suspended

Following the attacks at London Bridge the Vauxhall Liberal Democrats have taken a decision to suspend campaigning today, Sunday 4 June. This decision has been taken after discussion with the Vauxhall Labour Party who are also suspending campaigning. 

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All aboard for Gina Miller’s tactical voting guide

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Pro-Europe campaigner Gina Miller met with Liberal Democrat candidate George Turner to endorse him as the tactical voting choice in Vauxhall.

Ms Miller, who founded crowdfunded tactical voting campaign Best for Britain ahead of the election, met George on a boat on the Thames in a recreation of the infamous photo of Kate Hoey and Nigel Farage on the Brexit flotilla before last year’s referendum.

Ms Hoey’s constituents voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU, leading to her seat being a top target on a hitlist put together by Remain campaign groups Open Britain, European Movement and Britain For Europe.

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Rachel Johnson joins campaign to make George Turner Vauxhall's next MP

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Lib Dem newbie Rachel Johnson visited Vauxhall this week to campaign alongside George Turner.

The author and journalist, who is the sister of Foreign Secretary Boris, is famously pro-Europe and left the Conservative Party in protest at its stance on Brexit.

She is keen to support pro European candidates in the run up to the General Election and agreed to visit Vauxhall to campaign with George.

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UKIP leader backs Labour's "true Brexiteer" Kate Hoey AGAIN

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UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has re-emphasised his backing for Labour's Kate Hoey - calling her a "true Brexiteer".

Appearing on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show, he again talked about his happiness for the party to stand aside in Vauxhall in favour of ardent Leave campaigner Ms Hoey.

He said: "In some places we have stood down in favour of a Labour MP.

"People like Kate Hoey, for example, I don't want to see Kate Hoey not in the House of Commons because she's been a true Brexiteer all her life.” 

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Vauxhall Labour drafts in senior Vote Leave official to be campaign manager

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Kate Hoey’s bid to hold on to Vauxhall is being helped by a key member of Labour Leave.

Labour Leave is an anti-EU campaigning group partly funded by Right-Wing donors which co-operated with Vote Leave and Conservatives for Britain throughout the referendum campaign.

Michael O’Sullivan is listed as Digital Organiser for Ms Hoey’s campaign on emails to Labour members and supporters - but he became Head of Digital for Labour Leave in March 2016.

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