A HEREFORD councillor has called for more central government funding to support people with mental illnesses.

Councillor Aubrey Oliver made the remarks on October 29 while Hereford City Council debated proposals to back a county campaign aimed at promoting the need to listen to people with mental health issues.

The city council backed Paul Stevens’ motion to recognise the third Monday in January as Blue Monday, which will coincide with Herefordshire Council’s planned campaign Let’s Listen Herefordshire.

But Coun Oliver, whose sister suffers from vascular dementia, said the move was ‘gesture politics’ and that there was a real need for better funding of mental health services from national government.

“I’ve always campaigned for more spending and support for those with severe mental health problems,” he said.

“I question if there is any point in supporting this motion. How is that seriously going to improve the life of anyone with a mental health problem?

“I fail to see how motions like this improve anyone’s life, it’s gesture politics without the resources.”

Mayor Kath Hey said there was a potential for more money being made available for mental health services with the new administration in place at Herefordshire Council.

“I appreciate your feelings but would like to make a start in acknowledging it and maybe starting some way of lobbying for extra funding for mental health services in the county.”

She said having a specific day in the county to emphasise the importance of mental health and would raise the profile of the wider issues surrounding it.

Earlier this month, the county council backed David Summers’ motion asking for the establishment of a designated annual mental health day to be held every third Monday of each year from January 20, 2020 onwards.

Coun Stevens told the committee they should support the county campaign.

He said he wasn’t jumping on the mental health bandwagon as he too had suffered from anxiety and depression at different points in his life.

“I’ve suffered with mental health problems from my early 20s.”

Mayor Hey thanked Coun Stevens for his honesty and said they would also consider making the town hall a safe place for people with autism and mental health problems.

“A lot of the issues surrounding mental health are down to the stigma that surrounds it,” she said.

“Anything we can do to reduce that is very worthwhile.”

The clerk and Coun Stevens will become mental health first aiders.