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One out of five British MPs suffer mental illnesses


London : Over a fifth of British MPs have experienced a mental health problem, but are too scared to talk in case they lose their seat, a survey has revealed.

An anonymous survey of 94 MPs, 100 lords and 151 parliamentary staff members showed that 19 percent of MPs, 17 percent of peers and 45 percent of parliamentary staff said they had experienced a mental health problem, reported The Independent.

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 Tuesday 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.

Dinesh Bhugra, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists that 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.”

Mark Oaten, a Liberal Democrat MP, revealed he was treated with anti-depressants after his private life was exposed in the press.

“The truth is many politicians, myself included, have found the job enormously stressful,” he said. “I was regularly taking Prozac.”

He says he has now “got back his life” and is looking for other career opportunities after the next election.