MP attends launch of Priory's Harley Street Wellbeing Centre
Around 50 guests – including consultant psychiatrists, therapists, Priory staff and guests from neighbouring London clinics and hospitals – gathered at the Wellbeing Centre to hear the Broxbourne MP talk about current challenges faced by the Government in meeting demands for mental health services, especially amongst the young.
He also offered reassurance that mental health remains high on the political agenda and personally pledged to continue promoting the issue.
Mr Walker - who served as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health and who has himself spoken publicly about his own experience of living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) - also urged the public, and professionals, to maintain their high expectations of services and care as he believes "a government should always be driven to achieve the very highest expectations".
Addressing the guests, Mr Walker said; "The landscape has not changed enough... but the background has changed and generally people now accept that mental health is something that happens to all of us.
"When I first entered parliament 12 years ago, it was something that happened to other people and many believed; 'it will not happen to me because that shows I am weak and therefore I will not talk about it'.
"But, I feel we are really moving on from that - and moving on quickly - and it is a much more open topic. People are now talking about mental health and there is much greater awareness at every level of business and every level of life.
He added; "One of the great selling points of what you [Priory] do, is working with young people, seeing children from the age of 12. It's something I know that is important to you and it's important to me.
"But I still worry hugely about child and adolescent mental health services [CAMHS] and of course, more can be done across the board. When I talk to headteachers within my constituency, they often say they've literally given up with CAMHS as it's just not working. And that worries me because my local Trust is actually a fantastic Trust that does so much and clearly even they are struggling. Encouragingly, I'm seeing more schools import their own counsellors - but adolescent health still demands greater attention."
The Priory Group has opened the latest in a series of high-street Wellbeing Centres, designed to help people gain quick access to mental health treatment. The Harley Street Wellbeing Centre offers a family service for those suffering moderate postnatal depression and other issues such as stress following the birth of a baby. Psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists also treat a wide range of other general mental health issues such as stress, and addictions, and offer a full range of mental health services to young people.
Most outpatient therapy services are covered by the majority of insurers, meaning people may be able to access treatment at no additional cost. Priory also provides self-pay options for individuals and families, along with arrangements for businesses looking to support their employees. Too often people do not realise their health insurance will cover a mental health assessment and treatment.
Trevor Torrington, CEO of the Priory Group, said; "We are very grateful to Charles Walker for coming to our new Wellbeing Centre on Harley Street and for helping us to raise awareness of mental health. In addition to the work Charles has already done to break down the taboos and stigma around mental health, I know that he fervently believes that mental wellbeing should be seen as on a par with physical health in terms of its importance.
"This event marked the opening of our 11th Priory Wellbeing Centre and I'm pleased to say ours is a brand that is growing well, running parallel to what the NHS is committed to delivering in terms of treating people in the community."