Burnham-On-Sea mother Jo Clements, whose teenage son Charley Marks who took his own life last autumn, met Health Minister Norman Lamb and Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt on Monday (May 4th) to discuss proposed mental health changes in the UK.

Minister Norman Lamb and Tessa met to meet and listen to local young people who have suffered from mental ill health, as well as family members and friends who have experienced trying to help someone struggling with their mental health.

Jo’s 18 year-old son, Charley Marks, committed suicide last September. A new charity, In Charley’s Memory, was launched in his memory to support young people with mental health issues.

Jo said Monday’s meeting was ‘inspirational’. She told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I think it was a really informative, inspirational meeting and definitely a point of motivation for the charity to raise awareness and support for our cause.”

“Somerset as an area seems to be lagging behind in the modernisation of mental health illnesses and we want to be the leaders of changing this in our area.”

“Both Norman and Tessa were very welcoming and listened intently to what both Emily Sanders, who is our charity’s secretary, and I had to say. The support we have gained so far for In Charley’s Memory shows how attitudes are starting to positively change towards mental health illnesses.”

Since Tessa won the election back in 2010, she says many local young people have contacted her about mental health during her 700 surgeries, home visits and via mail.

She said: “Mental health services in Somerset, like the rest of the country, have traditionally been the poorer cousin compared to the treatment you get for physical health conditions. Those with mental health problems have got used to being left at the back of the queue, side-lined and told to ‘pull themselves together’ – it’s just not good enough.”

“For the first time ever, Norman Lamb has enshrined it into the core of the NHS that mental health must be seen on an equal footing to physical health. What I’m interested in is making this work on the ground for local young people in Somerset and I firmly believe that listening to those who have first-hand experience is key which why I was so keen for Norman to come and do this.”

Health Minister Norman Lamb said after Monday’s meeting: “Tessa has been a staunch supporter of our campaign to deliver equality for mental health, and she regularly reports back on the experiences of local people in rural Somerset. Today it was great to be able to meet some of these people, hear what they had to say first hand and answer some of their questions. I’m proud to say that mental health is slap bang on the front of the Liberal Democrat manifesto, and will continue to be one of our top priorities for the next Parliament.”