POLITICS
25/05/2021 08:00 BST | Updated 25/05/2021 10:35 BST

Nadia Whittome, Britain’s Youngest MP, Takes Time Off Due To PTSD

Parliament's youngest MP, 24, hopes revealing condition will help break “shame and stigma” surrounding mental ill-health.

Ollie Millington via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Labour MP for Nottingham East Nadia Whittome 

Labour MP Nadia Whittome has been diagnosed with PTSD and will be taking a leave of absence. 

The 24-year-old said it had been an “incredibly difficult” decision but she hoped revealing her condition would help break the “shame and stigma” surrounding mental ill-health.  

Whittome is the youngest MP in the Commons – known as the ‘baby of the House’ – and represents Nottingham East. 

In a statement released by the Labour Party, Whittome said she had been trying to balance her work as a constituency MP with battling “persistent health issues”. 

She went on: “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.” 

Whittome was a carer before her election in December 2019 and was among those to return to work on the Covid front line during the pandemic. 

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.Mark Winstanley, Rethink Mental Illness

The MP’s diagnosis comes amid widespread concern about mental health in the wake of the pandemic. 

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.”

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness charity, also praised Whittome’s decision to speak up.

He 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 judgement.

“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.”