<p>Nadia Whittome </p>
Nadia Whittome

Labour MP Nadia Whittome has been praised for her “bravery” after she announced she is taking a leave of absence to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The UK’s youngest MP said she was acting on the advice of her doctor and that she was looking forward to returning to the role.

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.”

Whittome was elected as the Labour MP for Nottingham East in December 2019 aged 23. Since being elected, she has spoken out against the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill and has expressed support for greater government intervention against male violence.

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.

Continuing her statement, Whittome added: “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.”

PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by “distressing events”, the NHS explains. It says that “someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt” and that it affects around one in three people who “have a traumatic experience”.

Reacting to her statement, Whittome received an outpouring of support from fellow MPs:

Leader of the party Keir Starmer said: “I wish Nadia all the best and hope she gets well soon. I respect Nadia’s bravery in speaking openly about her mental health and I look forward to welcoming her back to Parliament.”

Meanwhile, Mark Winstanley, the chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “The enduring stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace can be hugely damaging, preventing people from accessing support and leading them to prioritise work over their own wellbeing for fear of judgment.

“Being signed off from work for poor mental health is not a sign of weakness, but a recognition that wellbeing should always be a priority.

“We welcome Nadia’s openness around her diagnosis and wish her well in her recovery.”

As do we.

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