Nadia Whittome MP receives support as she returns to Parliament after three-month absence with PTSD

Nadia Whittome MP receives support as she returns to Parliament after three-month absence with PTSD

Labour MP Nadia Whittome has received an outpouring of support after she announced she is returning to Parliament following a three-month absence with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Britain’s youngest MP had announced she was taking a leave of absence in May, following the advice of her doctor, but has now said she is ready to return to the role.

“I’m making a good recovery, I feel well, I’m excited to be back representing the people of Nottingham East in Parliament,” she said in a video shared across her social media accounts.

“I want to thank everyone for your understanding over the last three months.

“So many people took the time to wish me well and I felt really moved and encouraged by your kindness.

Whittome was elected as the Labour MP for Nottingham East in December 2019, aged 23. She worked as a carer last year and spoke out about PPE shortages in a Newsnight segment. After doing so, she said she was fired but her employer denied it.

In May she released a statement about her illness, which the NHS says is an “anxiety disorder caused by distressing events”.

She said:

“Over recent months, I have been battling some persistent health issues. Until now, I have been attempting to manage them alongside continuing my full time work as an MP. Unfortunately, it has become clear that this is not feasible and I have been advised by my doctor that I need to take several weeks off in order for my health to improve.”

“I feel it is important for me to be honest that it is mental ill-health I am suffering from – specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“One in four people will experience mental health problems each year, but there is still a great deal of shame and stigma surrounding it.

“Through being open about my own mental health struggle, I hope that others will also feel able to talk about theirs, and that I can play a small role in creating greater acceptance and facilitating healthier discussions around this issue.”

Now returning to work, the MP added that her office staff had been integral to helping resolve constituency issues in her absence, that she felt privileged to be allowed time off work and that she would be fighting for other people to gain the same rights.

“Taking time off work that you need to recover should be a right for everyone, not a privilege, and the reality is far too many people cannot take the time of that they need because they are in precarious jobs.

“So that’s why I feel I am coming back with a renewed determination to make sure that everyone has that right.”

“I was glad to hear that my decision to be open about my diagnosis could in some small way help other people to be open about theirs,” she added.

Since announcing her return to politics, the MP received messages of support from parliamentary colleagues and other public figures.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said:

While other Labour MPs praised her:

Jolyon Maugham QC said:

And campaign group Tell MAMA added:

Speaking to The Guardian, the MP added that while she had received support she had also been targeted by speculation about the nature of PTSD and whether she actually has it, causing her to be concerned about other people diagnoses with the illness.

“I’ve thought a lot about whether to speak about the causes of my PTSD, and I decided that it wouldn’t help my recovery. But I will go as far as saying it was caused by extremely traumatic events that were entirely unconnected to my work as an MP, politics or parliament.

“When you look at misleading speculation, side by side with the very genuine and immediate fear for your life that results in PTSD, you see how ludicrous it is. But I still worry about the impact [the negative coverage] will have on other people with this diagnosis; how they feel it’ll be received.”

We are glad to see her return.

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