Nadia Whittome, the youngest MP in Westminster, has been advised to take a leave of absence as she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Labour MP for Nottingham announced she has been told to take “several weeks” away from work by her doctor, after trying to manage her condition alongside full-time work for months.
“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,” she said.
Ms Whittome was elected to the Commons in December 2019 aged 23 and became known as the Baby of the House.
She said in a statement: “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.”
She thanked Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his political secretary Jenny Chapman for their “kindness” and added that her staff would continue to support constituents.
Sir Keir wished her “all the best” and said he hoped “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,” he added.
The chief executive of a leading mental health charity also praised the MP’s “openness”.
Mark Winstanley, from Rethink Mental Illness, 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.”
Ms Whittome was born in Nottingham and was selected as the Labour candidate for Nottingham East in October 2019 after Chris Leslie quit the party to stand as an independent.
Following the election, she promised to donate a large part of her MP salary to the local community, stating at the time that she hoped it “sparks a conversation about earnings”.