She has an autistic son in his late 20s. In circumstances like this there is a need for a lot of care, along with knowledge, patience and skill. Even the most dedicated person needs help and needs a break. She doesn't get anything significant. She is left to deal with the situation.
We treat physical illness seriously and we are all passionate about defending the NHS. Yet we have allowed mental health issues to become marginalised and neglected. For example, there has been far too little protest as local authorities have seen their budgets slashed and they have passed on those cuts to the most vulnerable people. Leeds City Council has experienced 40 per cent cuts in their budget over five years. Or to be more accurate the people the council was supposed to help have experienced cuts.
Even before these cuts there was far too little support for anyone caring for a person with a mental illness. We have prided ourselves on dismantling the gigantic mental homes that existed in the 1960s using the slogan of "Caring in the Community." What has really happened is that we have dumped the problem onto anyone in the community who will take responsibility and given them precious little support.
In many cases all we are doing is putting people on dangerous doses of powerful drugs, to such an extent that on any one day 11% of women are on anti-depressants. In other cases we are relying on the family support network but not providing the key carers with any respite, hard cash, quick and easy access to information advice, or even any useful emotional support.
Mental illness is exactly that - an illness. It needs treating with the same respect as all other illnesses and we need a proper support system for the carers. It is time we started taking our responsibilities for the sufferers seriously and it is way past time that we started properly looking after the carers who are up against the reality of really difficult challenges day in day out without any sense that the rest of society is behind them. Oh but I forgot. Since Maggie there is no such thing as society!
If you think all members of society matter then one way to get your message across is to Vote Green. An increase in votes for UKIP has switched the whole political debate onto some quite unpleasant territory. I'm hoping an increase in votes for the Greens will get the message across that people do want the welfare state and they want it to work for all.