Conservative MP and practicing psychiatrist of the National Health Service Dan Poulter has revealed that the result of his study on British MPs’ well-being “paint a worrying picture” of their mental health, The Guardian reports. During the survey, 146 members of the House of Commons, which has 650 lawmakers, were asked about their mental condition and 62 of them (42%) admitted that they had “less than optimal mental ill health”. Moreover, 34% of them (49) confessed to “probable mental ill health”. Just one in four lawmakers, who filled in the questionnaire in December 2016, agreed that he/she had “no evidence of probable mental ill health”.
The authors of the study compared MPs’ mental state with the total population as well as corporate managers and high-paid staffers to find out that lawmakers feel worthless, unhappy, and depressed on a larger scale. So the researchers conclude that lawmakers “had lower levels of concentration, were losing sleep because of worry, were feeling less useful, were less capable of making decisions and were feeling under constant strain” than people in other groups. Apart from this, a larger proportion of them were “less able to face up to their problems, reported losing confidence in themselves”, the study, published in the journal BMJ Open said.
Among the key drivers, is the long working hours and spending a great amount of time away from home, which tears lawmakers away from family support.
Poulter also suggested that the existing whip system also damages the MPs’ well-being, blaming the “partisan, and occasionally confrontational and aggressive environment” for it. At the same time, more than a half of the respondents confessed that they would not discuss their problems with their party leadership, or did not know how to seek assistance in Parliament, although a special service has been set up there to solve such problems.
“Being an MP can be quite a lonely occupation. The work itself is inherently stressful. MPs are potentially at greater risk of developing mental health problems because of the nature of their work and because they work in a high-stress environment where there are many brickbats and not many bouquets”, Poulter told The Guardian.