Rishi Sunak has stressed the importance of prevention in mental health treatment following a visit to the Mind mental health support team in Northallerton.
The Richmond MP attended one of the centre’s regular drop-in sessions to talk to staff, volunteers and service users.
He said: “My visit confirmed something I learnt during my time on the first inter-ministerial group on loneliness – one of the biggest causes of mental illness is social isolation.
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“For example, we know, about 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.
“People of all ages are affected, from isolated mums to teenagers who find it hard to make friends.”
Mr Sunak said the work of Darlington Mind, which was awarded a three-year contract in 2018 to provide mental health support services by North Yorkshire County Council, was vital in maintaining the well being of vulnerable people.
He said: “I very much enjoyed meet the team and finding out about the range of services they provide across Hambleton and Richmondshire.
“It was good to hear they have a long-term funding agreement.”
The new ‘Mind Matters’ project has been set up as part of the new contract.
A seven-strong team based at the Link in Crosby Road, Northallerton, is now providing sessions on a monthly, weekly and fortnightly basis in Stokesley, Great Broughton, Richmond, Bedale and Catterick.
There are daily sessions, Monday to Friday, at Northallerton and a weekly lunch club at Bedale and twice weekly at Northallerton.
Gary Emerson, chief executive of Darlington Mind, which merged with Mental Health Support in Hambleton and Richmondshire, welcomed Mr Sunak’s visit.
He said: “It was a good opportunity to talk to our MP about the work we do and some of challenges we face a demand for our services grow.”
For more information on the organisation’s support work in Hambleton and Richmondshire, call 01609 780758.