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  1. ITV Report

MP Ivan Lewis has laid bare his battle with years of depression

MP Ivan Lewis has laid bare his battle with years of depression in a brutally honest account to launch a new campaign.

Opening up for the first time about his mental health, the veteran MP referenced parental divorce, failed relationships and ‘prolonged periods of loneliness’.

Mr Lewis is a former mental health support worker and health minister who has long championed mental health awareness. He is currently suspended from the Labour Party over accusations of sexual harassment.

He said:

At crisis points in my life I have withdrawn from all human contact, been unable to get out of bed, obsessed over past incidents in a futile quest to change them, felt unable to experience any joy and lost all hope for the future.

I’ve focused on the negatives in my life and refused to accept the many positives. I’ve often panicked at the thought of any human contact while being scared of being alone.

Every conversation however brief has required tremendous effort. At weekends and during holiday periods I have spent long periods alone, getting increasingly depressed and wasting numerous precious hours in bed.

Sometimes, I have been distant with my family, unable to put on a pretence of well-being.

During most of these periods of depression I have felt unable to reach out for personal or professional support.

– MP Ivan Lewis

The Bury South MP’s struggles will be revealed in a highly-personal blog due to be published later this week to support the launch of a campaign to improve mental health services in Bury.

Mr Lewis, who was first elected in 1997, said he recognised he has had ‘many advantages’ not available to others with mental health difficulties, pointing to his family, vocation and income. But he said that during most periods of depression, he has felt unable to reach out.

He added:

Because of my public role I felt unable to trust even close friends in case my confidence was breached and my reputation damaged. I was reluctant to seek professional help as this would mean being labelled. I wanted to be strong for my family not needy.

The consequences of this isolation were long periods of depression and repeat cycles of behaviour which could have been curtailed and in the darkest times a serious deterioration in my health which could have been avoided.

– MP Ivan Lewis
  • Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
  • The Sanctuary (0300 003 7029) helps people who are struggling to cope - experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks or in crisis. You can call them between 8pm and 6am every night.operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org .
  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org .
  • Childline(0800 1111 ) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.