‘Brave’ Labour MP Nadia Whittome receives outpouring of love after sharing PTSD diagnosis
Labour MP Nadia Whittome is to take a leave of absence from work because she’s suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The MP, Britain’s youngest parliamentarian, revealed on Tuesday (May 25) that she was signed off work for several weeks on the advice of her doctor.
Whittome, 24, said she’d attempted to manage her “persistent health issues” alongside her duties as a politician, but it had recently “become clear that this is not feasible”.
“I feel it is important for me to be honest that it is mental ill-health I am suffering from – specifically post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” she said in a statement shared on Twitter.
“One in four people will experience mental health problems each year, but there is still a great deal of shame and stigma surrounding it.
“Through being open about my mental health struggle, I hope others will also feel able to talk about theirs, and that I can play a small role in creating greater acceptance and facilitating healthier discussions around this issue.”
The decision to step back was “incredibly difficult” to make, Whittome admitted, but she said her constituents could continue to contact the “fantastic staff” working in her office as normal.
She also thanked the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, his adviser Jenny Chapman and party whips for their “support in enabling me to take this course of action”.
On the advice of my doctor, I’m going to be taking some time away from work for health reasons.
Constituents should continue to contact my office as normal – my staff will be there to assist you.
My full statement is below. pic.twitter.com/0CMDxc8OYl
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) May 25, 2021
The popular Labour backbencher, who is a former care worker and a hate crime project worker, was met with an outpouring of support after her announcement.
Kier Starmer wished her well and highlighted her courage in speaking out. “I respect Nadia’s bravery in speaking openly about her mental health and I look forward to welcoming her back to parliament,” he said.
“Sending you love, solidarity and strength Nadia,” added Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner. “Even by just publishing this statement you’ve shown so much bravery and you will have helped so many other people.
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“We all struggle at times and I know you’ll be back soon stronger than ever and working harder than ever.”
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hailed her as “bold and brave,” tweeting: “By being honest about looking after her #MentalHealth she helps all those who are struggling.”
Members of the public also joined MPs in thanking Whittome for sharing her diagnosis.
Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “The enduring stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace can be hugely damaging, preventing people from accessing support and leading them to prioritise work over their own wellbeing for fear of judgment.
“Being signed off from work for poor mental health is not a sign of weakness, but a recognition that wellbeing should always be a priority. We welcome Nadia’s openness around her diagnosis and wish her well in her recovery.”
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