Councillors have revealed their battles with depression in a bid to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Tory councillors Bill Armer and Andrew Palfreeman discussed their personal struggles at a packed council chamber in Huddersfield Town Hall.
The pair spoke out to encourage Kirklees councillors to adopt a motion making the local authority more responsible for the mental health of its residents.
The motion calls for the appointment of a council ‘champion’ to promote good mental health in schools and workplaces, and among council services.
Proposed by council leader David Sheard and Kirklees cabinet member for health Viv Kendrick, the motion received cross-party support.
Among those supporting the motion was Kirkburton Conservative member Bill Armer, who revealed his troubles with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Clr Armer, a former police officer, said: “Far too often people will develop some form of mental illness and they will be left ashamed of their condition...
“It’s a matter I don’t often speak about because I feel ashamed about it. We need to tackle this sense of shame; illness should not bring shame.”
Revealing his fight against depression and his difficulty in finding help from local mental health services was Birstall and Birkenshaw Conservative councillor Andrew Palfreeman.
Clr Palfreeman said: “It took six months to get an assessment and then it took a further nine months before an appointment could be meant to get onto cognitive behavioural therapy.
“I got excellent treatment from my GP and the CBT but these things never go away totally and sometimes it’s very difficult to avoid lapsing into how you were.”
Both Clr Armer and Clr Palfreeman received loud rounds of applause from their fellow councillors.
In a wide-ranging discussion, councillors discussed the knock-on effects that problems in accessing mental health services were having on other services.
Ashbrow councillor Amanda Pinnock added: “In these times of austerity mental health services are hit hard despite the rising demand. We cannot turn our faces away...
“People with poor mental health need our support and we have a moral duty to them.”