MP for Witney Robert Courts was shown the support available to people suffering with mental health problems as he visited a West Oxfordshire support group.

During a visit to the Oxfordshire Mind's Wellbeing Hub in Witney, staff from the charity talked to him about preventative approaches to mental health, supporting children and young people, and the upcoming World Mental Health Day.

Mr Courts told the team that he was eager to offer his support in any way he could – and described mental health as a priority for government.

He said: “Everybody has mental health just as everybody has physical health. It’s a scale – but it tends to be the viewpoint that you don’t talk about mental health unless you’re suffering from a condition yourself.

“Politically, mental health is very much at the forefront of the agenda and it’s also at the forefront of my own work.”

Mr Courts visited the Witney hub during a weekly peer support group meeting for people with a wide range of mental health issues.

Darren Williams, a security officer from Leafield, has been attending the group in Witney for the past three years.

Several years ago, out of the blue, he began to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, waking up one morning and finding he didn’t want to get out of bed.

He also began to suffer what he now knows are panic attacks, initially once per day but ultimately increasing to eight or nine times per day.

It took a long time before Mr Williams’s problems were diagnosed as being related to mental health, after which he was prescribed medication and his condition began to improve.

He said: “I still suffer now but I can manage it much better. I can hold a job down.”

The 51-year-old said that the Witney group had gone a long way to helping him recover from the worst of his mental health problems.

He continued: “I can’t fault it – it’s brilliant. But I would like to see GPs with more understanding and I’d like to see the issue of mental health raised more in Parliament – and not just sound bites thrown out during the run up to an election.

“It would be great to see more funding go to organisations like Mind.”

While there, the team from Oxfordshire Mind were able to discuss issues around mental health. This included concerns around a lack of support for teenagers and young people with mental health problems and a look ahead to Mental Health Day, which will take place next Tuesday.

Oxfordshire Mind hopes that staff in the emergency services, local government, schools and other workplaces will open up about their personal experiences for a new book being put together especially for the day.

The book will feature a collection of thoughts and opinions on mental health, and people are being encouraged to submit a pledge, photo, art work, poem or any other contribution before the day itself.

Oxfordshire Mind is also planning an ‘Olympic relay’ style event on the day itself with four different teams of people visiting various workplaces across the county to share pages from the book.