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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Barrow MP hopes the death of Robin Williams will lead to greater sympathy for people with depression

THE death of one of the world’s most high-profile stars could bring about an important change in public perceptions of people with mental illnesses. That is the hope of Barrow and Furness MP, John Woodcock, who in December last year revealed details of his own battles with depression.

Mr Woodcock spoke out again this week, following the death of Hollywood legend, Robin Williams. His suicide shocked fans all around the globe and threw the realities of depression into the public spotlight.

Mr Woodcock, who says he is almost back to “100 per cent” after taking medication for his condition, said: “Robin Williams is an incredibly high profile example of a condition and affliction which, unfortunately, all too many people are grappling with. I think this will show people that those suffering with depression are not always the ones who are deeply morose and actually, for many, part of their depression is being very outwardly engaging and sociable.

“I think the positive thing is that we are on the cusp of being able to talk about things more openly and in a matter of fact way. I’ve been so heartened by the response locally and nationally to my saying I was suffering from depression. Everyone was so supportive.”

While Mr Woodcock is confident that attitudes in society could be increasingly enlightened towards mental health issues, he feels the health system is a long way off treating them with the same degree of importance as is afforded to physical conditions.

He said: “I’m really concerned that there’s just not enough help available for people who are suffering.”

The MP also took the chance to reflect on comments from prominent figures lambasted for criticising Mr Williams following his death. America’s Fox News has faced a public backlash after one of its anchors branded the beloved actor “a coward” while TalkSport was forced to apologise for presenter Alan Brazil’s comments that he had “no sympathy” for those who commit suicide.

Mr Woodcock said: “I hope that the shockjocks who, I think, actually court publicity by saying controversial things, are actually not representative of people’s wider feelings which, I think, will be of shock and distress but mainly deep sympathy for a man who simply could not go on anymore.”

Have your say

Good morning Barrow!!

Lets see this town GREAT again.

Full employment and for the kids a good work ethic.

Not on and outs.

Posted by Tim Dance on 17 August 2014 at 19:48

So, John Woodcock, how do your comments tally with Labour policy and its track record? - remember it was Labour who brought in Employment and Support Allowance and the work capability assessment, conducted largely by Atos nurses and now Capita nurses and usually by people not even qualified and experienced in understanding mental health conditions. I have nothing against nurses in themselves, but both Labour and the Tories chose to ignore a person's doctor and place the onus on people who are enduring depression and clinical anxiety to try, often through stressful appeals, to prove that they are deserving of money to put food in their mouths. How are you feeling about that? Incapacity Benefit did need to change - but this could easily have been done by increasing the frequency of the DWP contacting the claimant's doctor. In that way, people without disabilities wouldn't be unjustly getting money.

Your opinion on this John would be much appreciated. I imagine you might say things will be better under a future Labour government. But I can't see how. The party's policies on this matter are essentially the same as last time and the same as Tory policy.

And because of Labour and Tory policy on how they assess people with mental illness and other disabled people there is now much less of an acceptance and understanding of disability amongst the public, aided by the tabloids who constantly issue scare stories about people illegally claiming benefits, being taken to court, etc. It all makes for a very stressful and more anxious situation for people trying to deal with their illnesses.

I'm glad you are feeling a lot better.

Posted by Peter Sullivan on 16 August 2014 at 19:38

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