Two British MPs spoke with great frankness today in Parliament about their own mental health — from the Guardian Politics live blog, Thursday 14 June, by Andrew Sparrow
Two MPs have spoken about their own mental health problems in a Commons debate on mental health. Kevan Jones, a Labour former defence minister, said that he had suffered from depression:
- ‘Like a lot of men, you try and deal with it yourself. You don’t talk to people. First of all it creeps up on you very slowly. I think in politics we are designed to think that somehow that 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 as well. We have got to talk about mental health in this House. Actually admitting that sometimes you need help is not a sign of weakness.’
And Tory MP Charles Walker said that he suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). According to the Press Association, he said the condition, which he described as an “internal Tourettes”, meant he had to do everything in sets of four, whether it be turning off light switches or washing his hands.
- ‘My wife and children often say I resemble an extra from Riverdance as I bounce in and out of a room switching lights off. Woe betide me if I switch off a light five times, then I must do it another three times. Counting becomes very, very important. And of course I leave crisp packets and biscuit packets around the house because if I go near a bin I have to wash my hands on numerous occasions.
‘I would say that OCD is like internal Tourettes. Sometimes it’s benign and sometimes it’s malevolent. It’s like someone in your head banging away. You’re constantly doing deals with yourself. Sometimes they are quite ridiculous but sometimes they can be quite serious.
‘I have been pretty healthy for five years but just when you let your guard down this aggressive friend comes and smacks you right in the face. For example, I was on holiday recently and I took a beautiful photograph of my son carrying a fishing rod. I love fishing and there was my beautiful son carrying a fishing rod and I was glowing with pride. But then the voice starts that if you don’t get rid of that photograph your child will die. You fight those voices for a couple of hours. You know you shouldn’t give in to them because they shouldn’t be there and it ain’t going to happen. But in the end you’re not going to risk your child so you give in to the voices and then you feel pretty miserable about life.’