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Mental health of UK Members of Parliament in the House of Commons: a cross-sectional survey
  1. Daniel Poulter1,
  2. Nicole Votruba2,
  3. Ioannis Bakolis3,
  4. Frances Debell4,
  5. Jayati Das-Munshi5,
  6. Graham Thornicroft6
  1. 1House of Commons, London, UK
  2. 2Centre for Global Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Biostatistics and Health Informatics/ Centre for Implementation Science, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK
  4. 4South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  5. 5Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neurosciences, King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
  6. 6Centre for Global Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Nicole Votruba; nicole.votruba{at}kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

Objectives The purpose of this study was to assess (1) the overall mental health of Members of Parliament (MPs) and (2) awareness among MPs of the mental health support services available to them in Parliament.

Design An anonymous self-completed online cross-sectional survey was conducted in December 2016.

Setting 56th UK House of Commons.

Participants All 650 members of the 56th UK House of Commons were invited to participate; 146 MPs (23%) completed the survey.

Outcomes The General Health Questionnaire-12 was used to assess age- and sex-standardised prevalence of probable common mental disorders (CMD). Results were compared with a nationally representative survey, the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2014. Core demographic questions, MPs’ awareness of available mental health services, their willingness to discuss mental health issues with party Whips and fellow MPs and the effects of employment outside Parliament were assessed.

Results Comparison of MP respondents with HSE comparator groups found that MPs have higher rates of mental health problems (age- and sex-standardised prevalence of probable CMD in 49 surveyed MPs 34% (95% CI 27% to 42%) versus 17% (95% CI 13% to 21%) in the high-income comparison group). Survey respondents were younger, more likely to be female and more educated compared with all MPs. 77% of MPs (n=112) did not know how to access in-house mental health support. 52% (n=76) would not discuss their mental health with party Whips or other MPs (48%; n=70).

Conclusions MPs in the study sample had higher rates of mental health problems than rates seen in the whole English population or comparable occupational groups. Most surveyed MPs are unaware of mental health support services or how to access them. Our findings represent a relatively small sample of MPs. There is a need for MPs to have better awareness of, and access to, mental health support.

  • mental health
  • United Kingdom
  • policy making
  • stigma
  • Members of Parliament
  • MP

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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Footnotes

  • DP and NV are joint first authors.

  • Contributors DP and GT conceived the original idea for the study, which was then discussed with NV. NV coordinated the study. All authors contributed to the design of the study. NV and FD conducted the literature review. DP and NV collected the data. IB conducted design and analysis of the data. JD supported the design of the data analysis and contributed throughout the design and writing up of the study. NV led the writing of the manuscript, and all authors contributed and critically revised it. All authors have given their approval for the publication of this manuscript and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work to ensure that the questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests NV acknowledges funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South London at King’s College London NHS Foundation Trust. GT is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South London at King’s College London NHS Foundation Trust. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. GT acknowledges financial support from the Department of Health via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre and Dementia Unit awarded to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King’s College London and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. GT is supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) Emerald project. GT also receives support from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01MH100470 (Cobalt study). GT is also supported by the UK Medical Research Council in relation to the Emilia (MR/S001255/1) and Indigo Partnership (MR/R023697/1) awards. IB is supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research. JD has a Clinician Scientist Fellowship funded by the Health Foundation working with the Academy of Medical Sciences. DP is currently MP of the 57th UK Parliament and was member of the 56th UK Parliament

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval for the study was obtained in September 2016 from King’s College London Ethics Committee (reference number: HR-16/17-3118).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data available. The Health Survey for England 2014 can be accessed at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/health-survey-for-england/health-survey-for-england-2014. Due to the sensibility of the data, and in order to ensure full anonymity, confidentiality and data protection for the participants, the full survey data cannot be made accessible to the public.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published. Joint first authorship statement is added.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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