Councillor lifts lid on depression

A MONMOUTHSHIRE councillor has spoken out about his own depression, weeks after the authority decided to become the first council in Wales to sign up to a charity’s pledge to tackle mental health discrimination.

Cllr Graham Down was one of three councillors, along with Cllr Sara Jones and Cllr John Marshall, who spoke out about their own mental health difficulties when Cllr Jones proposed a motion that the council sign the Time to Change Wales pledge at a meeting in May.

Speaking in more depth about the condition, Cllr Down said his depression, that “comes and goes”, probably dates from his teenage years but that he is helped through it by family and friends.

He said: “I had a particularly bad bout of depression after the last election. Why that should be, I don’t know – I’d had a very good election result, and there was nothing either at work or with my home life. It just happened.”

He said that when Cllr Jones proposed the motion, he said he was worried he might duck out of admitting his illness.

The Shirenewton councillor said: “I was frightened that I would bottle it. I’d have rather talked about something else but I suppose it was a relief.”

He added he was concerned that it took him 10 months to be seen by the NHS, and eventually he paid for private treatment.

And Time to Change’s programme manager Ant Metcalfe said he was pleased the council is working with the charity to sign the pledge: “It’s great to see Monmouthshire Council taking this step of voting to work with us towards signing the Time to Change Wales Organisational Pledge – aiming to be the first local authority to do so.

“Research we conducted last year showed that many people with mental health problems would still not feel comfortable talking to a manager about this, or even speaking to a colleague about what they’re experiencing.

“The benefits of a more mentally healthy workplace should be clear to any employer and that begins with creating an environment in which staff feel confident in talking about mental health.

"Doing so means that employees experiencing mental health problems will be more able to work with managers to find the support they need to recover or manage their conditions, which benefits everyone.”

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