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Green Box: Charles WalkerClick to open

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Stories involving Charles Walker

MPs: Mental illness 'not a weakness'

Labour MP Kevan Jones has told the Commons that mental illness is "not a sign of weakness" in politicians, as both he and Conservative Charles Walker spoke for the first time about their own experiences with depression in a debate today.

Mr Jones, a former defence minister, appeared close to tears as he told the House: "We have got to talk about mental health in this House. Actually admitting that sometimes you need help is not a sign of weakness.

"Being an MP is a great privilege. It's a great thing that I love but it also has its stresses."

He urged the Speaker to devote greater resources to assisting MPs with mental health issues, saying that medication was only "part of the answer" and had to work in tandem with therapy.

Sue Baker, Director of mental health anti-stigma programme Time For Change, said: "It is incredibly encouraging to hear the news that Charles Walker MP and Kevan Jones MP have both spoken out in Parliament today about their experience of mental illness."

"This will go down in the history books as we have never before seen our political leaders and parliamentarians feel able to discuss their mental health problems openly without fear of discrimination."

Former No. 10 Communications Director Alastair Campbell, an ambassador for Time For Change, welcomed Mr Jones and Mr Walkers' contributions in an article for the Independent, saying: "having MPs being so open about their own issues will help to build the political support necessary to stop mental health services being pushed to the back of the queue."


The controversial 55% mechanism for triggering dissolution of parliament will be "debated" and "discussed" by parliament, David Cameron said today. The measure has come under fire from Labour and some Conservative MPs. Number 10 has yet to state if the vote will be whipped.


Graham Brady, who was hostile to the establishment of the Con-Lib coalition, has been elected as the new chairman of the Conservative Party 1922 Committee. Two MPs considered independent-minded right-wingers - Charles Walker and John Whittingdale - were elected vice-chairmen.