Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox paid a visit to the New Mind Counselling Service, ahead of World Mental Health Day this week (10 October).
The Birstall-based charity has a team of seven qualified counsellors and offers an affordable and professional counselling service across West Yorkshire.
Mrs Cox spoke to those who run the service and some of the volunteers who offer the counselling – all of whom do so without pay.
The Batley & Spen MP, who has named the charity her inaugural Charity of the Month, said she was very impressed with the set up.
“The counsellors offer 875 counselling sessions a year on average, they’ve had 90 new clients self refer in the last 12 months and they also receive many referrals from GPs,” she said.
“Each of the seven fully trained and unpaid counsellors do an average of 110 hours a year of counselling for New Mind.
“It is an impressive set up and absolutely vital. We need to talk much more about mental health. There are estimates that over 40% of all issues raised with GPs are emotionally based.”
Mrs Cox took on board a series of issues relating to national policy that she will raise with ministers and colleagues in Parliament.
She added: “The Government purports to give mental health parity with physical health but this is not the reality – services are under-funded and there are excessively long waiting times.
“Funding is always an issue and that is something I hope to assist with, so that this service can continue to operate on a means based, affordable basis.”
BACP accredited counsellors Christine Chappelow and Ian Mounsdon said, on behalf of the team: “We were delighted that Mrs Cox visited us and took a great interest in the service which, according to the feedback and outcomes, is highly valued by our clients.”
Every month Mrs Cox will promote one local charity or a national charity where there is a strong local connection or issue.