BURY SOUTH MP Ivan Lewis has launched a campaign to help improve mental health services across the borough.

The MP has made issue one his top priorities after he last year spoke out about his own experiences and struggles with mental health.

Throughout Mr Lewis’s campaign ­— #TalkingAboutMentalHealth ­— the MP is to visit with various mental health services across Bury and meet frontline staff and nurses to get an inside view of the great work being done and challenges faced in keeping the borough’s residents happy and healthy.

To kick off his campaign Mr Lewis visited the outpatients ward in the Irwell Unit at Fairfield Hospital on May 31, where he met with doctors and psychiatrists.

The unit is Fairfield’s purpose-built 48-bed mental health unit where patients can be referred to by their GP or the police.

Mr Lewis said: “For too long mental health has been the Cinderella service with inadequate levels of funding.

“Mental health must be given parity with physical health in a modern NHS and care system. It cannot be right that therapeutic in-patient support or talking therapies are still predominantly only available to people who can afford to pay or have private insurance schemes.”

During the summer Mr Lewis will also be hosting three events in his Bury South constituency to give residents a chance to find out more about what mental health services are available in the borough and how to access them.

He will be joined at these panels by representatives from Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Pennine Trust, mental health charity Moodswings, and a resident who has experience of accessing mental health services in Bury.

Residents who attend will also be able to give feedback and share their own experiences with the services available.

This will then help to inform Mr Lewis’s campaign and future events.

Last year Mr Lewis spoke out about his own struggles with mental health problems in a bid to encourage others to do the same.

Throughout his life Mr Lewis said he had experienced “crisis points” and “long periods of depression”, unable to experience joy and having lost hope for the future.

Mr Lewis added that it is as a result of the kindness of others that he is on the road to recovery.

Mental health issues affect about 2,500 children and young people in Bury, aged between five and 16, according to the latest figures for the borough.

And almost twice the national average number of people aged 18 or over are subject to the Mental Health act in Bury ­— the highest rate in Greater Manchester.

To confront these challenges Bury NHS told Mr Lewis that its immediate priorities were in acute and crisis provision and its early help and wellbeing services, such as those in the community and through promotion of physical wellbeing.

It is also prioritising perinatal services for infants and parents, and seeking to enhance the promotion of mental health wellbeing in schools and other educations centres.

To improve these services Bury NHS is pursuing a transformation programme including refreshing the Bury Mental Health Strategy and working with stakeholders, partnership groups, and the recently created Voluntary, Community and Faith Alliance network.

The body is also working to create new services in perinatal mental health, community drug and alcohol programmes and the introduction of mental health workers in primary care.

Dr Henry Ticehurst, Medical Director of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust said; “We want to do everything we can to help improve the health and wellbeing of the local people of Bury.

“Raising awareness, breaking stigmas and improving mental health services is an important part of this, and that’s why we are always happy to feed into these campaigns. Talking about mental health can have a positive impact on people and communities in so many different ways.”