The House of Commons debate on mental health has held a lot of press in recent weeks as some laws stopping those who have severe mental health problems from jury service, being MP’s or company directors are being eradicated. The debate has followed MP’s own accounts of their experiences will the illnesses.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 of us experience poor mental health at some point, however mental health issues are heavily stigmatised in society and many people feel unable to talk freely about it with employers, peers and sometimes even friends and family.
Former Labour defence minister Kevan Jones, talked about having severe depression, a problem even some members of his family did not know about until he decided to speak out shortly before the debate. “In politics we are designed to think that somehow if you admit fault or frailty you are going to be looked on in a disparaging way both by the electorate but also by your peers,” said the North Durham MP. “Actually admitting that sometimes you need help is not a sign of weakness.”
The debate has been a historic moment and a relief for some, to see such politicians showing their true courage and leadership. Politicians including Kevan Jones, Charles Walker and Sarah Wollaston deserve congratulations for speaking about their mental health with such honesty.
Sarah Wollaston, former GP and Tory MP suffered depression, post-natal depression and severe anxiety attacks, sometimes even suicidal thoughts: “I know what it’s like and I’m sure there are many other members of this house who will know exactly what it feels like to feel that your family would genuinely be better off without you, and to experience the paralysis that can come with severe depression,” she said. “I’m absolutely sure my own experiences of depression and recovery made me go on to be a much more sympathetic doctor and, I hope, a more sympathetic and understanding MP.”
Other well-known figures including Stephen Fry and Alistair Campbell have tried to combat the prejudice surrounding mental health issues. It is important to also show all those suffering from mental illnesses that they’re not alone and that is a lot of support out there.
There are a number of public spaces online where those suffering can talk openly with others and receive online mentoring services if they suffer from depression, it also aims to support carers and friends or family who are affected by it.
Health Minister Paul Burstow has said the government will support a private members bill which will remove any laws that discriminate against those who have a mental illness including a ban on “mentally disordered persons” from participating in jury service, a bar on people who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months from becoming MPs, and a ban on the law that can have people removed as director of a company “by reason of their mental health.”
mental health support services UK are thrilled by this ban on the current laws and hope that society grows more aware and supportive of those suffering.