Jackie Doyle-Price MP
- Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament for Thurrock
Jackie Doyle-Price MP
- Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament for Thurrock
Add Mental Health Education to the mandatory teaching curriculum for all schools in the UK
When working to reduce stigma, I am continually concerned how a lack of education around mental health is contributing factor. This is something regularly raised as a mutual concern by guests on my mental health podcast plus several of them are actively working to fill this need by doing talks and workshops in schools. With one in four of us experiencing mental illness every year according to the charity Mind, this seems to be a real and very significant gap in our education system. KEY STATISTICS: - One in ten children aged between 5 and 16 years has been diagnosed with/shows signs of a mental health problem, and many continue to have these problems into adulthood. (1) - Over half of all mental ill health starts before the age of 14 years, and 75% of this has developed by the age of 18. (2) - NHS England estimates that poor mental health costs the NHS and society £105 billion a year in England alone. (3) The statistics are shocking, yet whilst there is a whole subject in the curriculum around our physical health in the form of PE, our young people are left without any knowledge of even the most common mental illnesses. Not only does this leave them unprepared and vulnerable when it comes to looking out for their own mental health, but also sets the standard that Mental Health is not discussed. This plants a seed of stigma that many carry for their whole lives. Upon further research, there generally seems very little in the way of guidelines currently. For example, if Romeo and Juliet is studied as part of the curriculum when the two title characters kill themselves, this is considered the end of the story or worse romanticised as an ideal form of love. The very serious topic of suicide is frequently not even mentioned as part of schooling, and yet according to the BBC, suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 49. It’s time to make a change. Even if a law was passed so every child receives one class about mental health during their time at school, this would be more than the vast majority currently get. We are keen to hear back from those in power on a more extensive plan to better the lives of our nation’s young people. CAMPAIGNING FOR: - Mental Health education becoming mandatory teaching for all schools in the UK without the addition of any exams or homework on this subject. - Every child having the ability to access a qualified counsellor through their school. This is something that many workplaces already offer. - Every school offering Mental Health training for its staff. Please join our petition to help bring us one step closer to making these requests a reality, thus helping safeguard the health of generations to come. Thank you for reading, Bobby Temps Host of ‘Mental - The Podcast to Destigmatise Mental Health’. Learn more about this petition and it’s creator at mentalpodcast.co.uk/petition 1. Source: Green h, McGinnity A, Meltzer h et al. (2005) Mental Health of Children and Young People in Great Britain, 2004. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2. Source: Murphy M and Fonagy P (2012). Mental health problems in children and young people. In: Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2012. London: Department of Health. 3. Source: NSPCC. How safe are our children? 2016
Make Menopause Matter in Healthcare,
Employment and Education. #MakeMenopauseMatter
Every day of every of week I counsel women who have been struggling to get the right advice and support for their menopause symptoms. Six years ago I had to have a total hysterectomy including removal of both of my ovaries putting me in to immediate surgical menopause. I received no counselling or advice about the possible effects of my surgery and was simply told to visit my GP after a few weeks when I left hospital. Due to a lack of the right information and support I did not receive the treatment I needed at the right time. A few months after my surgery I fell in to a very deep, dark place where I came very close to ending my own life. I was lucky; I had a supportive husband and family who got me the help I needed when I was not capable of doing that for myself. I have become increasingly aware of just how many women are not receiving the right support and advice at menopause, from their doctors, their employers and sometimes even their own families and friends. This is all due to a chronic lack of menopause education and awareness. GP's receive little, if any; mandatory menopause education during their training which is shocking when you consider that it is a stage of life that 50% of the population will experience. I don't want women to have to continue to struggle with their menopause symptoms in the way that I did and that’s why I am calling on Penny Mordaunt Minister for Women and Equalities, Jackie Doyle-Price and Steve Brine from the Dept of Health and Social Care to work together with the NHS the Royal College of General Practitioners and medical schools to make comprehensive menopause training a compulsory part of GP education and to expand menopause services throughout the U.K The result of this lack of education is that far too many women are left to endure menopause symptoms and the long term health effects of falling hormone levels. Women are regularly being misdiagnosed as depressed and prescribed anti depressants when they are in fact peri menopausal. Far too many women are being forced to fund private consultations to access treatment that should be readily available to them via their GP practice. Many women who experience an early or premature menopause are told they are too young to be menopausal, others are denied first line treatment when they are told they are too old or ineligible due to their lifestyle or health. Those women with complex cases are enduring lengthy waiting lists due to a chronic lack of NHS menopause specialist clinics throughout the U.K. This lack of education and awareness is costing women their health and wellbeing but it is also costing the NHS. Many women seek repeated appointments with their GP's to attempt to address a host of common menopause symptoms including joint pain, palpitations and anxiety. These women are often incorrectly referred on to secondary care incurring further distress for the individual and further cost for the NHS. Better education and implementation of the 2015 NICE guidelines would result in quicker diagnosis and treatment for women and savings for the NHS. There are currently around 4.3 million women aged over fifty in employment in the UK. Recent studies have shown that two-thirds of women said they had no support at work and 50% have reported finding work difficult due to their symptoms of menopause. Approximately one in four consider leaving employment due to their symptoms and 10% of women have actually given up work all together as a result of their symptoms. I have personally counselled four NHS nurses over the last six months who have all left the organisation due to a lack of awareness and support. In recent years we have seen surveys, statistics and reports outlining the impact of menopause on productivity and profitability but the hidden costs are to family finances, personal confidence and the benefits system, when women, who have always been in employment, find themselves relying on benefits for the first time in their lives. Supporting women to remain at work by implementing a few simple adjustments is common sense. Government and business need to recognise that menopause guidance in every workplace is a win win situation. Surely it is time to make menopause education and awareness a priority for our young people in the PSHE curriculum. Every woman and man deserves to understand a stage of life that will affect us all whether directly or as a partner, family member, friend or employer. Age appropriate education will ensure more autonomy for women and greater understanding and compassion from those around them. The most heartbreaking sentiment that I hear from women when supporting them is "I wished I had known this information before, I think it might have saved my relationship" Surely anything that avoids the loss of personal health, employment opportunities and relationships makes it worthy of inclusion in the curriculum. Finally, a few months ago while doing some research I took a look at the most recent suicide figures produced by the Office for National Statistics. The age group for women with the highest suicide rate per 100,000 in the U.K is 50-54, the average age of menopause is 51. Is this the ultimate hidden cost of a lack of menopause education, information, advice and support? Please join me in calling on the Minister for Women and Equalities and Ministers responsible for health, work and education named in this petition to #MakeMenopauseMatter.
End cuts to breastfeeding support - stop letting down millions of mothers
Last January, The Lancet confirmed the importance of breastfeeding – in both rich and poor countries – to the health of babies and mothers and to the economy. It also reported that the UK has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. But the government has done nothing to reverse this. Meanwhile, across the whole of the UK, but especially in England, there have been deep cuts to breastfeeding support services in the last two years and these are continuing apace. Recent examples include Blackpool Council, which ended its highly acclaimed and well-liked breastfeeding peer support service last June, and Kent County Council, which scaled down its exemplary breastfeeding service this June. They join a long and growing list. The author of The Lancet report, Dr Nigel Rollins of the World Health Organisation, wrote: “The success or failure of breastfeeding should not be seen solely as the responsibility of the woman. Her ability to breastfeed is very much shaped by the support and the environment in which she lives. There is a broader responsibility of governments and society to support women through policies and programmes in the community.” Supporting mothers doesn’t mean simply telling them that breastfeeding is good for them and their babies. Most mothers in the UK already want to breastfeed. The last Infant Feeding Survey found that 81% of mothers began breastfeeding – by 8 weeks, half of them had stopped altogether. Of those, 80% of mothers said that they stopped breastfeeding before they wanted to. With around 700,000 births annually in the UK, that means almost a quarter of a million mothers are being let down, every year. We, the undersigned, call on the UK government and the governments of the devolved nations to: ensure that all mothers have access to high-quality, timely breastfeeding support provide the funds to local councils and health boards to deliver these services Midwives, health visitors and doctors cannot offer this support alone. Integrated breastfeeding support services must be set up in every area (as per NICE and PHE guidelines), making efficient use of the skills and time of peer supporters, breastfeeding counsellors and lactation consultants. Improved breastfeeding rates would save the NHS millions and would add billions to our economy, but breastfeeding support is inexpensive. It’s estimated that an investment of around £30 million would be sufficient to ensure access to high-quality, timely breastfeeding support for all mothers who want to breastfeed in the UK. We, the undersigned, also support the Better Breastfeeding campaign to help bring about an environment in which all mothers in the UK who want to breastfeed are supported to do so. ---------------------------------- Find out more about our campaign at www.betterbreastfeeding.uk, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Please consider donating to our campaign to help create high-quality briefings to get our message across to commissioners and policymakers. Other campaigns you may be interested in Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative Change the Conversation campaign and Call to Action on Infant Feeding Open letter from Royal Colleges, health professionals and breastfeeding organisations (Photo above by Paul Carter/wdiip.co.uk)
Depression to be taught in Secondary school
Physical education became compulsory in schools over 100 years ago and is continually being improved in terms of teaching children about the value of nutrition and exercise. However within my 18 years within education never was I taught about mental health issues such as depression. Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration. 1/4 people suffer with a mental health issue such as depression in their life time, along with 50% of these people attempting suicide at least once within their life. The best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis and treatment of depression and other mental health conditions. However how is this possible if we aren't even taught about it in the first place. Although mental health support in schools is growing, this applies only for the children already diagnosed, rather than providing general menth health education for all pupils, this therefore leading to even further stigma around the whole topic. We should all be taught that feeling low or anxious is nothing to be ashamed about, maybe this would not only help children open up about how they're feeling but also start the prevention of it developing later on in life. A child or young person with depression can have major problems in not only how they feel, but also on how they behave. This may cause difficulties at home, at school, as well as relationships with family and friends. The longer the illness continues without understanding the worser effect it can have on a child's life. Therefore educating them on depression could not only ease the effects it can have, but also possibly prevent it before it even arises. All i hope is that the mental illness, depression can get put into the curriculum within compulsory subjects such as PD. Educating children on what depression is, how it can be caused, and how it can be treated. This could lead to reduced stigma, promoting early identification, and encourage early intervention.
Lives are being lost to mental health issues. We need change.
I don't get the chance to be treated the same way as someone with a broken leg. It doesn't matter if I come home every day contemplating suicide, sitting alone face down on my bed crying and fighting the thoughts in my mind. I am alone in this dark place. I am a prisoner of an invisible merciless force that I cannot see and I cannot fight. I play the role of the puppet of the dreaded darkness and my head is in flames and I am screaming for help internally but no one can see these flames, no one can feel these flames. It doesn't matter if I struggle to leave the house and surround myself with other people. My leg sliding on the ground as I hyperventilate and struggle to move. I am panicking with crystal beads of sweat erupting on my forehead and dripping onto the concrete ground and all I want to be is at home. Home alone, because I am afraid of the outside and I am afraid of people and I am self conscious. Speaking to people is like learning a new language. But so what right? They're just thoughts, can't be too bad. Just get over it. "It'll be fine, just hang in there." 1 person commits suicide every 40 seconds according to a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Many of which suffered from a mental health condition. It wasn't fine for them was it? Support isn't adequate. There is a massive stigma regarding mental health implanted in the minds of those who have never had to face it. They call us names: weak, exaggerative, dramatic. I am tired of living like this. I sympathise with those who are going through similar things to me. I suffer from depression and anxiety and have received counselling before. My depression has improved but my anxiety still affects me immensely. I used to come home from school and cry whilst thinking about suicide. I used to wake up in the morning and question why I was alive. This happened constantly for 4 years and it still does from time to time. My anxiety makes me feel extremely self conscious. I start panicking as soon as I am outside and surrounded by people. This stigma needs to be tackled, more support for those like me is needed. Why are people like me not taken as seriously as someone with a broken leg if 1 person commits suicide every 40 seconds? Why do we need to hide this in the background? This is why I am here today asking for your support in order to reach out to those who can make the real change. There needs to be much more campaigns tackling mental health stigma. We need to solve this societal misunderstanding that shroud the minds of many people. There needs to be more investment in mental health services. Mental health services are being provided with insufficient fundings to create a bigger impact and to help those in need. This proves that there is little care for people like me. We are being neglected. Ultimately, there needs to be a discussion for new forms of treatment within government regarding mental health. Counselling and medication is not sufficient for all people, we need other options. We need change. We can't wait. Now is the time.
Make CRPS a properly recognised condition amongst health professionals in the UK & the NHS
CRPS which is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, is a rare chronic pain condition suffered by those of all ages and has been recognised by medicine under various names for a long while. Despite this it is still not recognised by many health practitioners (doctors, nurses, surgeons, physiotherapists, occupational therapists etc) in the UK. This leads to unnecessary suffering, development of life changing symptoms and mental health problems. CRPS is known by some as the "suicide disease" as it is the most painful condition known to medicine and can make life unbearable for the sufferer. In my case, I went from being an active 16 year old girl who loved kayaking, to one who was wheelchair bound and in and out of hospital just before I turned 19. Just from a minor knee sprain. From this I have had the condition spread to affect both my legs and my left wrist and hand, I developed anxiety, had a mental health scare, skin breakdown, loss of muscle function and dystonia which I have had to overcome multiple times, relearn to walk multiple times, accept that my medical team are my new best friends, that physiotherapy and pain management will be a life long commitment and essentially learn a new way of life with chronic pain and I am only 21. My story on Channel 5 National News CRPS Channel 5 News at 5pm Yet on every occasion I have been admitted to hospital or visited a GP that wasn't the one I normally see, or been to hospital for something else. None of the doctors or nurses had a clue what CRPS was, with some going as far to say that it was all in my head and psychological. Which has been disproved as stated on the NHS website. Doctors on these occasions will ignore my requests to not grab or touch my legs or the fact I cannot move them because of pain and I have been accused of self harm due to the skin breakdown. When my CRPS spread to my hand and fingers, I went to get it checked on request by my normal GP, despite a splint being requested urgently the splint making department said I would have to wait two days to even be fitted with one let alone have access to hand therapy. If that physio had more awareness and understanding of CRPS and its complications she would have understood the urgency of the situation. This is only a small insight into the lack of understanding of CRPS in the UK, other problems include disjointed services across the UK in the NHS, extremely long waiting lists for pain clinics, a lottery over funding and treatment and not many health care practitioners being able to recognise and give primary treatment of or help manage CRPS. The first three things the government need to change is: - Increase the education of health practitioners on chronic pain especially neuropathic pain conditions, so that they can recognise and begin treatment earlier, and also understand patients and help them rather than question / dismiss them or tell them its psychological as above. - Create a tick box on NHS systems that means that all CRPS patients can be logged and therefore counted. Which would enable the specialist CRPS centres and pain centres to apply and access more funding. Leading to better research and treatments. - Make CRPS a recognised chronic condition with management services and treatment pathway to match, rather than saying there is nothing else we can do and leaving people stranded. If these three basic points are achieved the life of CRPS sufferers and their family and friends plus future sufferers will be made a lot less stressful. Potential secondary conditions such as mental health conditions may be avoided in their severity. The more people who are treated efficiently and effectively from early on after recognition should lead to a greater number of people achieving remission plus those who have long term management and support will enable them to lead better lives and potentially return to work or education. If the health system recognises CRPS in these ways then the care system including PIP (personal independence payments) and similar are more likely to also recognise the severity of the condition and provide more help. Finally if CRPS is recognised and management services are provided to match, then sufferers should be eligible for free NHS prescriptions as management of long term conditions is extremely expensive for the sufferer and their families. Even though I personally have only experienced a few problems with health practitioners compared to some sufferers, at times it has been very demoralising and unnerving for me and my family. Currently I don't see a health system that can continue managing CRPS the way it does and it is letting down numerous sufferers as it stands. I have friends with CRPS who are housebound, had their limbs amputated, are bed bound, suffered from sepsis the list is endless. They have all come across the lack of awareness and understanding amongst medical professionals and like me find it upsetting to say the least. As media and public awareness of the continues to grow more and more people may think and self diagnose CRPS but unless the medical practitioners on the front line understand and recognise CRPS there is not much that will happen. The longer people are left with CRPS the tendency is for it to worsen at various rates, leaving more demand on the health service, if there was more recognition amongst medical professionals and better general management strategies this may not happen and therefore reduce the strain long term on the NHS for example. Even if the government makes a few simple changes to the way health practitioners are trained and treat CRPS patients it would make a massive difference to myself and the community who deserve so much better!
Recognition of Dissociative Disorder within the NHS and Formation of Appropriate Treatment
The condition Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which is listed within the DSM 5 in the category of Dissociative Disorders; desperately needs wider recognition, acceptance and understanding in the UK. DID develops during the formative years of childhood. Initially as a coping mechanism for severe, repeated experiences of trauma. In essence, the brain fragments or compartmentalises the different overwhelming emotions, experiences and memories. The formation of dissociated parts enables the person to function to some degree, allowing a separation and disconnect from overwhelming trauma. A person with DID may present very differently, although often this is not always evident as DID is first and foremost a coping mechanism for survival, hence is not always overtly obvious. This combined with a lack of recognition and understanding can exacerbate how many individuals go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (with disorders such as, Borderline Personality Disorder - BPD, Eating Disorders, Mood Disorders, Psychotic Disorders etc.) to their detriment. Despite potential symptom overlap, it is important to note, DID and BPD, in particular, are not synonymous. It is important to acknowledge Dissociative Disorders may encompass a vast range of symptoms which without relevant knowledge causes individuals to be repeatedly let down and labelled, which may lead to inappropriate and often rigid approaches and treatment pathways. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (2011) estimate a person may be in mental health services for 5-12 years without an accurate diagnosis of dissociative disorder. In addition, research shows that many people with dissociative disorders accrue up to 4 inaccurate diagnoses before receiving a valid diagnosis. Complex Dissociative presentations generally require up to 5-10 years of specialist therapy. Therefore, such individuals often spend many years in inappropriate placements, receiving a lack of understanding, appropriate treatment or support; often leading to repeated admissions, unsuitable placements and many years of wasted funding (at best, many others go completely unsupported). This leaves the individual and associated services frustrated and no further ahead. A way to mitigate such circumstances, which have varying degrees of negative impact on all involved, would be to provide relevant specialist training to primary and secondary NHS services. Which would enable earlier recognition and therefore avoid revolving door admissions with no sustainable progress. There are currently no dedicated solely NHS services for Dissociative Disorders throughout the whole of the UK. We call on all parties this petition has been issued to, to be proactive in forming appropriate treatment packages for people with Dissociative Disorders. This should be expedited as a matter of urgency, due to desperate need and the lack of current provision.
Don't let elderly people be alone this 2018
Millions of OAP's will be alone again this year. You can help change their lives! We would like see more funding, help and support for befriending services to assist with the large number of volunteers wishing to visit and help lonely and isolated older people in their homes. We would also like to see funding towards awareness campaigns highlighting the need for activities and events for lonely older people. Thank you so much Charlie
BAN DETOX TEA'S #banteatox
As featured on BBC Radio 4 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0005mrg Problem Detox teas are advertised by influencers and celebrities with millions of young followers across social media platforms. They are branded in a colourful, fun, and 'girly' way, attracting the vulnerable consumer audience of millennials, Gen-Z and young adults - who are already under extreme pressure from the media to conform to a very particular body type. If you search #teatox on Instagram and you’ll find more than 700,000 images of lithe-limbed bloggers and influencers praising the benefits of detox teas, which claim to promote weight loss, reduce bloating and cleanse your system in short periods of time. These products claim to 'detox' the body. There is no evidence that detox products or diets remove any toxins from your body. Furthermore, your body is capable of cleansing itself through the liver, faeces, intestines, lungs, urine, and sweat. Unless someone is suffering from IBS, constipation or other medical complications - they should not be consuming laxatives in any form. Senna is the key ingredient in the majority of these products. It's a strong, natural laxative medication used to treat constipation. It irritates the stomach lining and can cause cramps and diarrhoea, which in turn will lead to dehydration, disruption of the body's electrolyte balance and subsequently can cause serious heart problems.The tea brands are marketing their toxic products with triggering words such as "skinny" and experts have identified that drinking the teas for their purposefully laxative effect could be considered bulimic adjacent.SolutionThe government needs to ban the sale of detox teas without a prescription. They should only be available from a pharmacy if a patient has been medically advised and prescribed by their GP.It's our responsibility to look after our children, we shouldn't be marketing laxatives to them in pretty pink packaging. It's utterly toxic, completely irresponsible and needs to stop, now.Personal storyWhen I was 17 I was buying these products from local shops and drinking them to induce the laxative effect. These products resulted in the temporary loss of my bowel control on multiple occasions, serious stomach cramps, heart issues and many emergency trips to A&E.I don't want these products to be available to teenagers or young adults in shops. If someone needs serious help in achieving weight loss, they should be seeking professional advice from their GP, not drinking detox teas falsely advertising health benefits with no scientific backing. Approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. All eating disorders can cause life-threatening medical complications. Anorexia alone has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. In every case, eating disorders severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and those that care for them. Putting a laxative in a tea bag and a cute box, handing it over to a celebrity and taking a photo of their plastic surgery enhanced physique is not clever marketing, it's disgusting. It's about time we started taking eating disorders seriously. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised, the following organisations may be able to provide help and advice: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/ https://www.mind.org.uk/ https://www.samaritans.org/ https://youngminds.org.uk/
Have Emotional Support Dogs/Recovery Dogs registered, under the law, as assistance dogs!
Please help in my goal; To have the UK’s Parliament legally register, and protect, “Therapy/Emotional Support/Recovery Dogs”, and the Disability Discrimination rights of said dogs, and their owners. Already, I’d like to thank you for reading my petition. I understand that, with all the complex issues needing petitioning, one about mental health, and the issues surrounding it, doesn’t always get the attention it needs. Please bear with me, and keep reading, as I attempt to explain my situation and why I, desperately, NEED the goverment to recognise therapy dogs as a registered Auxilary Aid = Assistance Dogs. My name is Jessica Low, I am 23 years of age, a mother, and a Mental Health patient, suffering with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (formerly known as Borderline Personality Disorder). Sadly, I have required the Mental Health Service’s treatment and care since I was 14. Despite being under their care for so long, and having moved to different towns/cities, in the hope of ‘better’ treatments, I struggle no end. 5 years ago, I was promised that my name would be placed on a waiting list for Mentalisation Based Therapy. MBT, as it is abbreviated as, is a lengthy, in-depth therapy, usually lasting 18 months, often twice a week, that is recommended for people with my Disorder. It was created by UCL and is said to be 60% more affective than other therapies* (*for those with the same disorder as myself). To make a tediously long story a whole lot shorter, I still haven’t had it. A couple of months ago, after moving to the Borough of Haringay, London, in September 2017, I finally heard from my new mental health team (several months after first being referred to them and with no contact from them, until then - During this ordeal, I had been victimised by Children’s Services, for the 2nd time since my son’s conception, due to their refusal to accept psychiatric assessments of myself, despite them having requested it, to say I was not and am not, a risk to my son, or anyone else, for that matter), only to find that, through no faults of either parties, I could not attend the Introduction to ‘MBT’ (a 10 week course, as a precursor to the therapy, requiring me to afford childcare, for approx. 4 hours, once a week, for those 10 weeks), meaning that I could not go on to receive ‘MBT’ and, as said by the Mental Health Team at St Ann’s, Turnpike Lane, due to funding cuts, they couldn’t offer me another service, such as one-to-one therapies with a psychiatrist, and were unsure how else they could help me. To avoid beating around the bush further, I am saddened to say that it meant I was left without any support from them, no named-psychiatrist to assess, or make amendments to, my medication. The only ‘help’ I was left with, is access to a ‘crisis team’, those of whom, usually, are there when you have, unsurprisingly, reached ‘crisis point’. Sadly, I have felt unable to reach out for their support, due to fear that Children’s Services would, again, take this as a red flag against myself and my son’s safety. FINALLY, I am able to speak about why I am asking for your support. I got Mischka, my emotional support dog, when I felt I was no longer coping. I had stopped leaving the house alone with my son, I couldn’t guarantee that my son and I would be able to reach our local park, a mere 0.5 a mile from our home, without my anxiety reaching it’s peak and sending us back inside our home. Thankfully, after getting Mischka, I gained a little more confidence. Granted, due to the goverment not recognising Therapy Dogs as Assistance Dogs, it does mean I cannot venture into certain shops and other venues, but it meant my son and I could get public transport, go for short walks, and even speak to others, with far more confidence than I had before. Mischka had previous owners, and was only 6 months old when we rehomed her, and was very anxious herself. She seemed to fear humans, terribly, and wouldn’t allow anyone to interact her. There was one incident, on the day that she arrived to our home, where she was so frightened on her first walk, she attempted to climb in to the ‘shopping basket’ of my son’s pram. May I add, Mischka is a husky, and isn’t large, but she certainly isn’t small enough for that. Thankfully, she has brought out confidence in me, and I in her. My disorder takes so much confidence and ability away from me. I lost so much through my illness and through separate traumas. I can rarely make phone calls, due to my anxious nature, I have severe panic attacks, I have a lengthy history of self harm and suicide attempts, I am unable to regulate my emotions, thus making it difficult to maintain relationship or friendships. It changes the way I see, and cope, with the world. Thanks to the canine friends I have within my family, I have found strength in them that I lacked in myself. It means that my son has a ‘guardian’, of a furry nature, that accompany him, anywhere he goes. Unfortunately, I hit another bump in the road. We are fortunate enough to be private renters, but nearing the end of our tenancy. We found another property, and paid our initial deposit and fees. Luckily, our prospective landlords had agreed to ‘go ahead’ with us, against the recommendation of their letting agents, of whom felt that they would be better taking an offer from someone else, as our situation was “unconventional” (meaning that my house mate/friend is full time self employed and I am in receipt of ESA, aka. Incapacity Benefit, a Benefit given to those who are registered long term sick and are unlikely to get better in the short term). We paid the holding fee and were asked to sign contracts. Before doing so, I wanted to clarify with them that, due to not receiving my therapy and having a deteriorating mental state, I would be needing to keep my emotional support dog, and not have her live with my parents in the countryside, which I, reluctantly, agreed would be best for her, instead of living in a busy part of London. The agents got back to us, informing us that the ‘new offer’ (amended) was refused and we could continue with the let, WITHOUT Mischka. We had previously been told that it may be against the Head-Lease of the property, being it in a block of flats, despite seeing multiple other occupants of the premises with dogs on our viewing of the property. Upon questioning the Landlord’s decision, we were told that, despite what is stated in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Landlords simply didn’t want a dog in their property. As the daughter of landlords, I can fully understand their wants, but tried to explain, to the best of my ability, what the law states. Regardless, the letting agents refused to speak with me further and said that “their job was to help their clients (the landlords)” and that their legal team would be in touch. My dog gives myself, and therefore my son, the ability to live a life with more freedom. I am begging the goverment to provide, not only us, but other mentally ill people, with the confidence in knowing that, should they require a therapy dog, they will be given the same respect, treatment and rights that another disabled person, with a physical impairment, would get. I believe my petition could, in turn, open a path for more discussion to take place around mental health, the failings within our services and systems, and within society, in general. I, with every good intention, put a plan in to action, to create a charity that can be advocates for people, like myself, that need a voice with Mental Health, and that may feel let down by what they have/not received so far. If you would like to show your support, please follow @withmuminmind on Instagram. Thank you so much for reading my petition description, even if you don’t feel you can support it. Your time means the world and I do hope you feel you could spread my story, in order to have more voices be heard, and less injustices happen. Jessica.