Monday, April 7, 2008

Why I respect Alastair Campbell

Sorry for the delay in posting. I'd been working on this month's updates to the malehealth site and very interesting they are too.

There's a fascinating piece by Alastair Campbell about his battle with depression - a struggle that continued even once he was inside 10 Downing St working for Tony Blair. It just goes to show that even your dream job might not make you happy. Whatever you think of Campbell, it's to his credit that he's had the balls to go public about his depression. It's to Blair's credit too that he was happy to appoint Campbell despite his history of mental illness. Only when every employer behaves like this can we defeat the stigma against mental health problems.

It's no accident perhaps that the government have just funded a booklet called What's The Story? which encourages journalists to cover mental health issues professionally. It's full of useful advice based on solid stats. For example, fewer than 1% of the 600 murders a year in England and Wales are the result of random attacks on members of the public by people with mental illness. Yet in the media 27% of the coverage of mental health issues - in other words, more than one story in four - is about violence. No wonder people think the risk of being attacked by someone with a mental health problem is far higher than it really is.

There's no substitute for personal experience when it comes to understanding an issue which is why the vogue for politicians who have done nothing in life other than be politicians is so worrying.

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