Courage in the Commons

You may have followed coverage of last week’s debate in the House of Commons in which a number of MPs spoke about their personal struggles with mental health, but if not, you can read the Guardian’s take on it  here.

This is essentially a good news story, but I find myself feeling deeply disturbed by it.  I am disturbed that it still takes such guts to go public about struggles that ONE QUARTER of us will share to some degree.  I am disturbed that until this month, mental health issues would disqualify a person from become a jury member, a company director, a judge or a member of parliament.

I am so sad that former Labour defense minister Kevan Jones suffered through his depression in secrecy because of what he feared the revelation would do to his career and his reputation: and more sad stll that his fears were rational and founded on reality.

A few weeks ago I urged a much loved friend to get on top of his long term depression by doing what there is to do to deal with it- going on meds, getting counselling.  He said it would mean he had an official diagnosis and would have to come clean about it on job applications which would harm his progression up the ranks of his profession.  I argued that being depressed and not getting better would be more harmful- he’d be less productive, have lower self-esteem and present a shadowy version of his incredible, multi-dimentional character.  I have since wondered which of us was right.

The only way stigma can be fought is for brave people to take the risk of bringing this into the open.  On behalf of the rest of us, thank you Charles Walker, Sarah Wollaston and Andrea Leadsom.