Welcome to TP's mental health week
This week, the Total Politics blog will be publishing a whole range of articles addressing the issue of mental health in politics. In the course of a year, one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem, yet in the political arena, the issue is discussed relatively little. I wanted to do something to change that.
The stigma attached to admitting to a mental health problem - depression or anxiety are the most common ones - is great at the best of times, but for those who work in the high pressure environment of professional politics, it can be insurmountable. At the same time, we look to our politicians for leadership on improving things for those who suffer from these problems. When it comes to something like entrepreneurship, we value legislative contributions from MPs with direct experience of setting up their own businesses, but would we feel the same if a politician cited their own struggle with depression as the inspiration for a new scheme or law? Or would we question their fitness to continue in their job? We can only wonder.
In the current issue of the magazine, Kirsty Buchanan, political editor of the Sunday Express, has a superb article on politicians and their ‘black dog days’, in which she argues that ‘it’s time to shine a light on the black-dog battles being secretly waged in Westminster’. If MPs are to lead the nation in making it ok to talk about these problems, they have to start by being transparent about their own problems, she says.
This week, we will hear from some of those who have suffered in silence on the parliamentary estate, find out how other countries and legislatures have tackled these problems, delve into some of the little-known facts about mental health and decision-making and look at the practical steps politicians can take to decrease the stigma around depression. Click on the green button in the sidebar to see all the contributions, and make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@TotalPolitics).
As part of this, we’d also like to hear from you. Do you agree with what our writers have to say about mental health in politics? Do you have your own story to tell? You can leave a comment, @ us on Twitter, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your ideas.