Gary Barlow’s brave admission that he suffered a nervous breakdown following his daughter’s stillbirth, as well as suffering from depression, should be applauded and not ridiculed as it has been by a number of people on social networks. If anything, Barlow’s confessional should be used to spread the word that mental ill health can happen to anyone.
When his group Take That split up back in the 1990s, Barlow’s career tanked to the point that he couldn’t get a record deal and no one wanted to see him perform. From hero to zero in little more than the blink of an eye. No wonder his mental health suffered. And who, in their right mind, could not have sympathy for a family suffering a stillbirth?
I always think it is good to talk if it is safe to do so. That’s easier said than done. At a time when workers’ rights have been massively diminished, admitting you have mental health problems might not be entirely beneficial to your job and career. My loyal reader will know from my constant whinging about a bad experience I had whilst working for an international renowned humanitarian charity that it is not always okay to not be okay. Some employers are better than others.
Barlow’s wealth did not prevent him suffering from the Black Dog but it may have helped him overcome his issues. It is the same with Ant from Ant and Dec. When I have had my own issues with depression, I was not able to take a year off work. After my breakdown in 2017, I had to wait a year for therapy. If I had been rich, I could – and would – have paid for treatment. I do not, for one second, begrudge Barlow and Ant for using their wealth to secure certain privileges because that would be silly and vindictive. Whoever you are, poor mental health is no joke. Demons are demons, whether you live in a gated mansion or an ex council house. The aim should surely be to ensure everyone who suffers from poor mental health to get treatment.
Given the number of celebrities who have gone public with their demons – and well done to each and every one for having done so – we must not forget that there is an epidemic of poor mental health in our country. Not all of us go on – or in my case drone on – about our issues and there are thousands, maybe millions, of people who go through a broken, or semi-broken mind and have no choice but to struggle on. It is not an easy struggle.
We rightly celebrate the existence of the NHS, as being a place where a person’s social class is left at the hospital entrance. That’s all true, except that with an underfunded NHS many people have to wait far longer for treatment than those who can simply whip out the chequebook (one for the kids, there) and go private.
I happen to think it IS okay to not be okay and we should work towards a world where everyone thinks that way. Barlow and Ant remind us that poor mental health itself is classless, but obtaining treatment for it certainly isn’t.