Three quarters of MPs likely to have ‘poor mental health’

A Westminster-focused study has revealed that three out of four MPs probably or definitely suffer from poor mental health.

According to the research, which measured psychological well-being among parliamentarians at Westminster, MPs are far more likely than either the general population or people in other high-level jobs to be troubled by distress, depression and similar conditions.

Information provided by 146 MPs who filled in a questionnaire about their mental well-being showed that 42 per cent had ‘less than optimal mental ill health’ while 34 per cent had probable mental ill health’. Just 35 MPs had ‘no evidence of probable mental ill health’.

Dan Poulter, the lead co-author of the study, who is also a Conservative MP and practising NHS psychiatrist, said: “These results paint a worrying picture of MPs’ mental health. Being an MP can be quite a lonely occupation. The work itself is inherently stressful. MPs are potentially at greater risk of developing mental health problems because of the nature of their work and because they work in a high-stress environment where there are many brickbats and not many bouquets.

“There is also the long hours – MPs can work up to 60-hour weeks at Westminster and in their constituencies – and the fact that, by spending most of the week away from home, that puts a strain on relationships and they don’t have a supportive family environment to go home to at the end of the day.”

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health, said: “This should act as a stark reminder that no one is immune from mental ill-health. It doesn’t discriminate and can happen to anyone at any time, disrupting life for hundreds of thousands of people.”