Mental health charity Mind has issued wellbeing advice to all 650 MPs sitting in Westminster and their staff, following a series of parliamentarians revealing the effect Brexit is having on their mental health.
Those who have spoken out include Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing & Shoreham, who said: “I have never seen more frazzled MPs, physically and mentally, and I do seriously fear for the mental health of some of my colleagues.”
Another anonymous MP described Westminster as “a boiling pot of mental ill health”, while a Labour Party co-ordinator talked of the anxiety that many in Westminster are feeling, with MPs and their staff struggling in the “toxic political climate”.
Others have highlighted the impact of the abuse they are receiving around Brexit and have called for greater mental health support.
Their accounts follow an unprecedented few weeks in Parliament which have seen a recess cancelled and lengthy, heated debates. While some MPs are seeking help through counselling and mindfulness, Mind has urged all parliamentarians to get the support they need.
In his letter to MPs, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind, said MPs and their staff are working in a “uniquely pressurised environment” and are not immune to mental health problems.
The charity’s recommendations include:
• A guide for managing stress
• Information on a range of mental health problems
• Resources for MPs to support their own and their staff’s mental wellbeing in the workplace
• Contact details for Mind’s Infoline, which provides confidential advice and support.
Louise Rubin, Parliamentary Manager at Mind, said:
“It is worrying to hear stories of MPs hiding in cupboards, turning to alcohol, and feeling out of control because of the pressure they are under. Mental wellbeing depends on various factors, including working conditions which is why we are offering support to MPs and their staff. We must not forget politicians are human and it is vital that during this particularly pressurised time they are able to access the right mental health support.
“In recent weeks, many MPs and those who work for them have talked about their large workloads, the febrile atmosphere in parliament and abuse they are receiving around Brexit. It’s easy to neglect mental wellbeing under these conditions but long-term unmanageable stress can negatively affect physical and mental health, and can lead to or worsen things like depression and anxiety. Whatever profession you are in, and wherever you work, you should be able to access good mental health support when you need it.
“We also know that the impact turbulent political times can have extends beyond MPs. While the effect of Brexit on the nation’s mental health is hard to measure, political and world events can create a great deal of uncertainty, which can make some of us feel anxious, stressed and down. If feelings are overwhelming or affecting your daily life we do recommend speaking to a friend or family member or go to your GP, who can talk you through the support that’s available.”