I meant to comment on this a couple of weeks ago but forgot. Anyway, politicians in the UK have been ‘coming out’ of the mental health closet recently, admitting to having mental health issues such as OCD, depression, postnatal depression etc.
I think the more that high profile people (celebrities, politicians, high ranking professionals) speak openly about their mental illness, the closer we get to having any reasonable hope of reducing stigma. My only worry is that Severe Mental Illness (SMI) such as psychosis may be underrepresented in this process, and it seems to be SMIs that the public are most fearful of. Still, a promising start, and much respect to the politicians who took the difficult step of speaking up…
15th June 2012
Politicians hide their mental health issues because to admit fault or frailty is tantamount to throwing away their career, MPs were told in the House of Commons.
Calling himself a “practising fruitcake”, Tory MP Charles Walker revealed details of his obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which he has had for over 30 years. This caused him to “bounce in and out of a room” four times and even destroy photographs of his son because voices told him that if he kept them his child would die. After initially guffawing at his “fruitcake” comment, at this point the Commons fell silent.
Labour’s Kevan Jones told MPs about the “deep depression” he suffered from in 1996.
“I just hope you realise, Mr Speaker, what I’m saying is very difficult right now,” Jones said. “Like a lot of men, you try and deal with it yourself. You don’t talk to people.”
He went on: “In politics … if you admit fault or frailty you are going to be looked upon in a disparaging way, in terms of both the electorate and your peers as well.”
As to whether his admission would blight his career, Jones said: “I actually don’t care now because if it helps other people who have suffered from depression in the past, good.”
Sue Baker of the mental health campaign Time to Change said the speeches would go down in history because MPs have never previously felt able to discuss their mental health problems openly without fear of discrimination.
“We want people from all walks of life to be able to do the same and it’s great to see politicians making a stand,” she said.
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