One in five MPs experiences mental health problem

A fifth of MPs have experienced a mental health problem, but are too scared to talk in case they lose their seat.

The findings come from an anonymous survey of 94 MPs, 100 Lords and 151 parliamentary staff members. It showed that 19 per cent of MPs, 17 per cent of peers and 45 per cent of parliamentary staff said they had personal experience of a mental health problem.

But one in three said work-based stigma and expecting a hostile reaction from press and public stopped them from being open about these problems.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health published the findings today as part of a report critical of a law that MPs must give up their seat for life if sectioned under the Mental Health Act for six months. No such sanctions exist for being unable to work for six months for physical illnesses.

Professor Dinesh Bhugra, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which helped carry out the survey, said: ‘We applaud this effort to start talking more openly about mental illness.

‘MPs occupy a privileged position in the public eye and greater openness has the potential to lead to a better public understanding of mental health issues.'

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

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