Defence minister praises Ruth Davidson for '˜honesty' on mental health battle

The MP who fought to save a policeman's life following the Westminster Bridge terror attack has praised Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson's courage in speaking about her mental health issues.

Wednesday, 10th October 2018, 9:20 am
Updated Thursday, 11th October 2018, 10:27 am
Ruth Davidson. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood was speaking ahead of today’s World Mental Health Day 2018, which this year is focusing on young people and the challenges they face at a time of rapid political and technological change.

Mr Ellwood said while much had been achieved in changing attitudes to mental health there was still a long way to go and that some people could be afraid of the stigma.

Describing Ms Davidson 
as a ‘feisty woman’, Mr 
Ellwood added: “Mental health is still seen as a little bit taboo.

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“But Ruth Davidson speaking about it and saying ‘I will never put myself forward as Prime Minister’ was a real breath of fresh air.”

Last month Ms Davidson revealed she began self-harming at age 17 and had contemplated suicide.

The World Health Organisation said that approximately half of all mental illness starts by the age of 14 but that the majority of cases go undetected.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. Mr Ellwood, a former soldier, also said he would support the The Scotsman investigation to get “veteran” noted on the death certificates of former service men and women who took their own lives, along with measures to identify and treat mental health issues during and after service.

Mr Ellwood , speaking about the Westminster Bridge attack said: “It was my training in the armed forces which allowed me to step forward.”

Paul Sweeney, Scottish Labour MP and shadow Scotland Minister with responsibility for defence, said: “It’s encouraging to see the consensus across the parties that something needs to be done to support veterans.

“Tobias needs to hold an inquiry and liaise with other departments to ensure we get accurate figures on the scale of veteran suicide and mental health.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman MSP, said: “Every child and young person should have access to emotional and mental well-being support in schools.

“Our ambitious Mental Health Strategy sets out improvements in early intervention and will ensure better access to services.

“This year’s Programme for Government builds on this action, and will radically reform mental health support.”