After watching The Thick of It, it reminded me of Alistair Campbell and his struggles with depression, and how he has promoted more equality for mentally ill people in politics.
His struggles with mental health really make you remember that MPs and those that work within parliament are real people. I was happy to hear that Brown was taking five weeks off, as the stress that he must have been under recently must have been unbelievable.
This interestingly relates to the expense scandal, as even though the coverage it has received and the anger that the public have felt towards politics as a result is just, we often forget the effects on MPs health of the 24/7 intense media coverage. Andrew George was featured in a recent BBC article and expressed the stress that him and his family were under due to the media coverage, and how they were not provided a platform to defend themselves. Even though I am not sticking up for those MPs that have broken the law, we do sometimes have to just stop and think that they are human beings with emotions, and some of them may very well have mental health problems that make the recent events even more unbearable.
This is something Campbell has tried to address, as he wants to try to reduce the stigmatisation around mental health. This is particularly true for parliament, as there is a culture of secrecy around these issues, such as the current law that leads to MPs losing their seats if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act. In a recent article,Campbell rightly points to how this reinforces the silence around mental health in parliament and needs to be addressed by government to help tackle the discrimination that forms around mental health problems.
The commitment that the Liberal Democrats have towards mental health is one of the reasons that I joined the party, and I hope that we can be a beacon for advocating a reduction in the stigmatisation around mental health that occurs in parliament amongst other institutions, as Alistair Campbell has.