One in five Canadians will experience symptoms relating to mental illness in their lifetime. Yet, despite strides to destigmatise mental health conditions, people experiencing acute symptoms or episodes often feel as though they must struggle through alone and in silence. High-stress occupations, including those in parliamentary politics, are often places where these conditions first manifest or reappear due to certain triggers. The very public nature of the job and the continuing need to seek re-election tend to make politicians reluctant to disclose their mental health issues. In recent years, however, more parliamentarians appear to be coming forward, while in office, to speak openly about managing their mental health on the job. In this roundtable, three parliamentarians who have publicly disclosed their mental health conditions came together to talk about their experiences serving as parliamentarians while dealing with mental health conditions. With astonishing candour, they shared their stories and took the opportunity to talk to others in the same unique position about how they’ve persevered during trying times. The participants, while acknowledging the challenges of managing the conditions while in office also spoke of its positive effects in terms of giving them compassion, realism, and great perspective that can be used to excel at aspects of their jobs.
This roundtable was held in November 2017.