Question from academic chosen by Jeremy Corbyn for his first PMQ

21 September 2015

New Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, promised a very different Prime Minister's questions. He invited the general public to submit questions they 'would like to put to the Prime Minister' and over 40,000 people responded.

One of the lucky ones to have their question chosen was Angela Gilchrist, a Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer from the University’s Salomon’s Centre for Applied Psychology.

The new Leader of the Opposition used her expertise as a mental health professional to raise the question of mental health provision in the country.

Angela said: “I was amazed to hear my question read out by Jeremy Corbyn during his first Prime Minister’s questions. Not only because over 40,000 questions were submitted, but nearly a 1000 of those were on mental health.

“I am an active user of social media, spotted the invitation to submit a question and thought it would be a good opportunity to get a question on mental health services into PMQs. 

“The social stigma surrounding mental health has diminished somewhat in recent years, but it is still very much the Cinderella of the NHS. There is still a lack of parity with physical health care, despite the Prime Minister's insistence to the contrary.

“I worked in the NHS for a long time, and saw how bad things were, but unfortunately austerity has made the situation much worse. At The Salomons Centre we are training Clinical Psychologists for the NHS and monitoring scores of training placements in the Health service. Our trainees feedback on the ever mounting difficulties people with mental health conditions, and their families face, in trying to get the care and treatment needed. As an academic in the field and a practising clinician myself, I believe I have a responsibility to highlight these issues.”

Angela believes that the only way forward for improving care is to think about mental health in a totally different way. She continued: “By the time somebody needs to be admitted to hospital we have already failed them. We need to tackle the social context in which the problems occur so as to try and prevent them, or at least treat them early.

“We need to radically transform the way we all think about mental health problems.  We have to accept that we are all vulnerable to difficulties given the right circumstances. Anyone of us can suffer a difficult bereavement, unmanageable stress or a traumatic event which leads us to develop a mental health difficulty. It's important to recognise that it can happen to anyone and to think about how you would feel if either you or a  loved one was unable to get adequate help.”

You can watch Prime Minister's questions here.

Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With almost 18,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2013/14 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

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Last edited: 04/12/2017 23:10:00