Mental health charity echoes calls for Livingstone apology over “psychiatric help” comments

Mental health charity echoes calls for Livingstone apology over “psychiatric help” comments

Published on Thursday, 19 November 2015

Posted in News

One of Northern Ireland’s leading mental health charities has echoed calls for former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to apologise for saying an opponent, who had previously suffered from depression, needed"psychiatric help".

AWARE (formerly Aware Defeat Depression), who provide crucial early-intervention and prevention services for people affected by depression across Northern Ireland, made the call after Mr Livingstone said shadow defence minister Kevan Jones “might need some psychiatric help”.

Mr Livingston said his Labour Party colleague is “obviously very depressed and disturbed,” after Mr Jones questioned whether Livingstone was the right person to lead Labour’s defence review.

Mr Livingstone has refused to apologise for the comments despite calls from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urging him to do so.

Siobhan Doherty, AWARE’s Chief Executive, said ill-judged comments by public figures can lead to further stigmatisation of people with mental illness.

“There is a huge amount of work going on across the UK and Ireland to break down the taboos that still exist around mental illness and depression and comments like those made by Ken Livingstone undermine that excellent work,” she said.

“It is crucially important that public figures use responsible and appropriate language when talking about mental illness and depression and about people who have suffered from mental ill health, otherwise we run the risk of stigmatising those people, and the illness, further.”

“Through our outreach events, public talks, support groups, education programmes, social media campaigns and more we are working on a daily basis to try and build a society where people can talk about their mental health openly. Comments like those of Mr Livingstone do not help and I would echo the calls made for him to apologise.”

Tags: Depression | mental health | stigma