UK’s youngest MP takes break to deal with her PTSD

Nadia Whittome is taking several weeks off work to manage her condition

Nadia Whittome was advised by her doctor to take time off work. Getty Images
Nadia Whittome was advised by her doctor to take time off work. Getty Images

The youngest MP in the British Parliament has taken a leave of absence after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Nadia Whittome was applauded by party chiefs and charity leaders for publicising mental health issues.

Ms Whittome, the Labour MP for Nottingham, was advised by her doctor to take “several weeks” off after she tried to manage her condition alongside her work.

"Unfortunately, it has become clear that this is not feasible and I have been advised by my doctor that I need to take several weeks off in order for my health to improve," she said.

"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,” she said.

"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 own mental health struggle, I hope that 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."

Ms Whittome was 23 when she was elected to the Commons in December 2019.

The Nottingham-born politician promised to donate a large part of her salary to her local community, stating at the time she hoped it would prompt "a conversation about earnings".

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of the Rethink Mental Illness charity, praised Ms Whittome’s "openness" in discussing her PTSD publicly.

“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,” he said.

"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."

The UK’s National Health Service describes PTSD as an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

In her statement, Ms Whittome thanked Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for helping to arrange her time off.

"I respect Nadia's bravery in speaking openly about her mental health and I look forward to welcoming her back to Parliament,” Mr Starmer said.

Updated: May 26, 2021 09:13 PM

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