This is what the Tory in charge of the NHS thinks about mental health

23rd October, 2014 9:49 am

Alastair Campbell Jeremy Hunt

Alastair Campbell appeared on BBC Three programme Free Speech this week to talk about mental health, and his experiences of depression (you can watch the full episode here). In it, he tells the story of meeting Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, who couldn’t understand Campbell having depression because of his “great life”.

While the idea of someone with such a simplistic understanding of mental health issues being in charge of the country’s health service is shocking, it goes some way to explaining why this Government would implement cuts that leave mental health services “dangerously close to collapse”.

Campbell has spoken out about this issue many times before, including the telling of this story. Following the death of Robin Williams earlier this year, he wrote:

“We have a long, long way to go. I met the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, last year. We talked about depression and he said he found it really hard to understand “why someone like you, with the life you have, would have depression”. I was, I admit, quite shocked. He was reflecting an opinion that many hold, and this is the fight – to understand that depression has nothing to do with how popular or famous, unpopular or unknown, you are. It just is. Like cancer is. Like asthma is. Like diabetes is. Some people get it, some people don’t. It is a truly horrible illness, and must be viewed and treated as such.”

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  • MonkeyBot5000

    Hunt believes in homeopathy, I don’t know why ignorance of depression would come as any surprise.

    • MrSauce

      Does he?!
      My regard for politicians may have hit a new low.

    • Ady

      He takes homeopathy to new levels. He thinks if you dilute compassion down to levels of less than 1:100000000 then it is more effective. At least that is the charitable view of why he is such a bastard.

    • Nick London

      Well involves selling people sugar tablets instead of medicine. I am sure that appeals to him!

  • MrSauce

    Ah, taking quotes out of context worked so well last week… let’s do it again!
    This time it comes second-hand from a professional liar.

    • John Ringer

      In what context would that quote not be at least a little bit jarring? Anyway, I don’t think this is meant as a direct attack on Jeremy Hunt so much as it is about revealing just how widespread misconceptions about mental illness truly are.

      • Danny

        I think it’s a more of a damning indictment of the Tory Party and Cameron. You’d have to be a pretty moronic organisation and/or individual to think, “Hmmm, who do we want as Health Secretary? A man with little understanding of mental health and a belief in hocus pocus homeopathy? Sounds just grand!”.

        It would be funny if it wasn’t so damaging.

  • Ian Robathan

    As someone who is as present suffering from depression this kind of attitude is all so true. My boss is actually very good about it but I have been told by others ‘pull yourself together’, tell me how can you do that whilst looking at the bottles of pills in your hands ?

    I am on the surface, well off, nice family, good job, nice house, the classic example of middle class happiness, beneath the surface no one can see unless I tell them. People like Hunt make me sick (literally) and well done to Alistair for again highlighting the awful illness we have and his strength gives me the strength. Actually for how he worked with Blair, Iraq etc I totally disagree with him but on this he is a shining light.

  • Tom Sanders

    If I’d done as much for New Lab in my time it would get me down too. (Sorry)


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