Thursday, February 12, 2009

Three cheers for Alastair Campbell

It is healthy to express anger as I did in yesterday's blog. It is also healthy to give praise. So three cheers for Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell who is now doing his bit to encourage us to take a healthier attitude to mental health problems.

He argues that in today's prejudicial climate leaders who changed the world such as Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln - both of whom were frequently mentally ill - would never get elected. Campbell is in some ways his own proof. Although Tony Blair knew what he'd been through, the rest of us didn't.

Most people with mental health problems keep quiet about them at work until for some reason they can no longer do so. Why? I think our macho working culture might be to blame. It's increasingly difficult to express weakness, doubt or vulnerability. Bosses particularly are worried that to do this might destroy their magic. I know, it's a joke, really in the current economic climate.

But I reckon those bankers I wrote about yesterday are probably dealing with some tricky feelings right now - guilt, anger, sadness, low self-esteem. Just the sort of thing that can lead to depression and mental health problems. It is a shame for society - and all of us who have to work in it - that they can't talk about it.

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