What has Alastair Campbell said about his battle with depression?

ALASTAIR Campbell has joined GMB to host the breakfast show in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week.

The former spin doctor has been refreshingly open about his struggles with depression and ways of managing his mental health.

What has Alastair Campbell said about his battle with depression?

Alastair Campbell has struggled with depression since his 20s.

He has had several mental breakdowns both before his career in politics and during. In 1986 he suffered a psychotic episode in the middle of the Scottish Labour Party Conference.

Campbell has said: “I accept the depression is part of who I am,”

"And that requires me to put in place things to help me stave it off. I do that pretty well – most of the time.”

Campbell has said the worst part of his depression is trying to continue with simple, everyday tasks.

He said: “I find the worst thing is that the things you normally take for granted are what you would normally be able to do as they’re very straightforward. With depression, they become exhausting.”

The special advisor has said that his high-flying career contributed to his decline in mental health.

He said: “There’s no doubt there was a period when I think a lot of my depression was to do with work. Not necessarily when I was working in Downing Street, but afterwards, when I couldn’t quite leave.

“Part of me didn’t want to, but part of me did.”

Campbell says that he managed to hide his struggles during his time as Blair's spin doctor.

He said: “There would be times I would take a phone call at home with Tony, from Gordon Brown, John Prescott, from the editor of a newspaper or whatever, it would be ok. I wouldn’t be great but I would be fine.

"The minute I put the phone down, I would be back on the sofa and Fiona says, ‘Are you ok?’ and I just don’t speak, because with her I felt I could literally be myself," he explained.

Campbell has detailed his experience in his book "Living Better".

It begins: "On a dark Sunday night last winter, I almost killed myself.”

What else has Alastair Campbell said about mental health?

Campbell wrote his book not only to detail his own mental health struggles, but to open up the conversation surrounding mental health.

“There’s not a single family in the world that doesn’t have someone who’s struggled with mental health,” he says, “and part of the purpose of the book is to lay that wide open.”

The book also speaks about his cousin Lacky, who took his own life in 2000, as well as his brothers – one of whom had schizophrenia and the other, who had "unaddressed psychological issues".

In 2020, Campbell began to speak about the costs of lockdown on mental health.

He opened up to Lorraine about his own experience of the pandemic.

“I have had a very up and down lockdown, to be honest", he said.

"It started well, then I had a bit of a dip, then I had what I can only define as a manic phase probably for a few weeks I was a little bit out of control, then I had a massive plunge."

But he has joined campaigners in calling for a more concerted focus on mental health in response to the pandemic.

He said: “When the pandemic started, I wondered whether this could be what finally flips the lens on mental health and starts to look at it in a different way.

“I don’t have the sense of the government having a strategy for it at all. They very rarely talk about it.

“I think that if we could somehow use the pandemic as the pivot to say that we have to think about mental health in a different way, then I think we could get to a place where we start to recognise that the government has to do more, but so do employers and we as individuals."

Campbell was named "Champion of the Year" by mental health charity Mind in support of his work.

What is Mental Health Awareness Week and what is it about?

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is taking place between Monday, May 10, and  Sunday, May 16

The event is coordinated by the Mental Health Foundation and this year's theme is Nature, to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways and notice the impact that it can have for their mental health.

A survey by Public Health England shows that around half of us say that our mental health has been badly affected by the pandemic – so this year it is more important than ever.

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