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.”