Cleadon and East Boldon councillor David Potts who has a history of mental illness is hoping he can use his own experiences to change people’s perception of mental illness.
Councillor Potts, who is till trying to get his life in order after being detained under section 4 of the Mental Health Act following his deselection as the prospective Conservative Parliamentary candidate in the Labour held Edinburgh South constituency at the next General Election, is now backing a national campaign to get a section of the Mental Health Act, which states an MP can never sit in Parliament if they suffer a nervous breakdown while in office, changed.
Under Section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983, an MP automatically loses their seat if detained under the Act for a period of 6 months or more.
He said: “how can this be fair? Basically what this says to people is, if like me, you’ve suffered from a mental health problem, your opinions will never be valid again”.
He went on to say, “this means that people who have the most experience of the system cannot change the system.
“When I was about 14 I started getting very depressed and became paranoid and I’ve had to cope with these feelings ever since. Things became extremely difficult for my family after I tried to kill myself and as you can imagine, I wasn’t a very pleasant person to be around”
“Eventually, my mam took me to the local hospital to see one of the doctors there and he said he wanted me to go into hospital. They basically said to me I could either go voluntarily, or I could be sectioned for up to six months.”
Councillor Potts, who is a self employed financial trader and lives in West Boldon, spent the next few months in hospital, is backing a national campaign by mental health charity Rethink, to raise awareness of mental health issues with MPs.
He said: “I am taking a big risk being so open about my mental health problems and there are things people can and I am sure will, say, it could also be the end of my politial ambitions, but if you go through something like this, you should be allowed to have your say.
“It’s essential that people who have experienced the system should be allowed to shape it”.