22 January 2019

22nd January 2008 - Breaking glass ceilings in mental health


On 22nd January 2008, Kjell Magne Bondevik of Norway spoke to the UK members of parliament about his experience of depression. This was the launch of Stand to Reason's campaign "Breaking glass ceilings in mental health".

Kjell was the Norwegian prime minister when he was brought low by depression. He said, "It happened one Sunday in August 1998. I was not able to get out of my bed. I did not have any energy left in me. I stand here today because I became more aware and had a strong experience that day. I hit the wall. That did something to me - as a human being and as a politician. The three weeks that followed were the worst in my life. But I am not sure still whether I would like to be without those three weeks."

He could not undertake his duties and the instinct of those around him was to hush it up. But Kjell decided on a press release telling the Norwegian people of his mental health problems. He recovered and was back at work in a few weeks. He went on to be re-elected and proved that people who have experienced mental health problems can recover and manage a challenging job.

Jeremy Paxman, who interviewed him, wrote in the BBC Newsnight blog on 22 January 2008. 'I know we’re supposed not to be partisan, or to pass judgement on those we interview. But I have to say that of all the many politicians it has been my (occasionally painful) duty to interview over the years, Mr Bondevik comes pretty near the top.'

Thankyou to Mental Health History Timeline for the date. Read more about Kjell Magne Bondevik on wikipedia.

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