One of the parts of my work as Minister of Health that is most topical these days is mental health. You may have seen last month the report of a Task Force, commissioned by the NHS, to look at the state of our mental health services and point the way forward. Put together by a mixture of independent experts, charities and those who use mental health services, it was a pretty frank report, and pulled few punches about things which needed to change.

Read more: Bulletin Magazine Feb 2016 - Rethinking mental health

The death of David Bowie, and the way in which it dominated news broadcasts and the newspapers for some days, caused me to think about the impact of modern culture in terms of its influence on society, and indeed, politics.

 

My generation (born 1955) has grown up with media, and particularly music, dominating in a manner unknown before. Whilst radio from the 1920's brought music and culture to a mass audience, the expansion of media outlets for music over the past fifty years, and it's all pervading nature, is unprecedented. And for a very small handful of incredibly creative individuals, their influence on society has gone way beyond their own sphere.

Read more: Villager Magazine Feb 2016 - David Bowie

Last Thursday, 4th February, was 'Time to talk' day, devoted to encouraging people to discuss mental health issues.

For all that we have moved forward in the UK in terms of our national understanding about mental health, that such problems affect one in four of us each year, there can still be a reluctance to discuss the issue. When asked how we are, we have no difficulty in saying that we have a bad back, or toothache, but few readily open up on anxiety or depression.

Read more: Burt on the Benches February 2016 - Time to Talk

As well as looking after constituents in NE Bedfordshire, I am honoured to be a Minister of State for Community & Social Care. My brief covers a wide range of topics, from GPs, CCGs and mental health, to care homes, dentists, podiatrists, pharmacists and more – so never a dull moment.

As part of my role, I recently spoke at a conference for the Shared Lives network.

Read more: Bulletin Magazine Jan 2016 - Shared Lives

The UN Day of Disability was marked in Parliament in December with an event launched by a leading disability charity Papworth Trust.

I joined Papworth Trust CEO Vicky McDermott to show my support for disabled people in NE Bedfordshire, and across the UK.

The Trust produces industry-leading facts and figures about disabled people and the challenges they face and will launch their 2016 figures in early this month.

Read more: Village Magazine Jan 2016 UN Day of Disability