Mental health of UK Members of Parliament in the House of Commons: a cross-sectional survey.
Poulter D., Votruba N., Bakolis I., Debell F., Das-Munshi J., Thornicroft G.
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.