Letter: Feeling the strain

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The news that Norway's Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, has taken a week's sick leave because of a "depressive reaction from overwork" shows great courage and openness on his part.

Such admissions have often caused the downfall of politicians. When Michael Dukakis ran for President against Ronald Reagan, and rumours of a past depression came to light, Reagan commented that he would not pick on an invalid - and went on to win.

Being "out" about mental health problems has also cost many lesser mortals their jobs, which partly explains why only 13 per cent of people with long-term mental health problems are working, a lower rate than for any other group of people with long-term health problems.

Let us hope that Mr Bondevik's frankness, and the sympathetic response he has received, is a sign of a new wave of tolerance sweeping across Europe.

LIZ SAYCE

Head of Policy

Mind, The Mental Health Charity

London E15

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