Former Care Minister opens up about his battle with depression

Labour former minister Ivan Lewis has opened up about his battle with depression in a bid to encourage others to talk about their mental health problems.

Mr Lewis revealed how the condition had sometimes prevented him from getting out of bed and that because of his public role he felt unable to talk about it.

The Bury South MP said he hoped his story would encourage others in the Jewish community to speak out.

Mr Lewis, in an interview with the Jewish Telegraph, said: “At crisis points in my life I have withdrawn from all human contact, been unable to get out of bed, obsessed over past incidents in a futile quest to change them, felt unable to experience any joy and lost all hope for the future.

“I’ve focused on the negative in my life and refused to accept the many positives.

“I’ve often panicked at the thought of any human contact while being scared of being alone.”

The longstanding MP revealed that he felt unable to “trust even close friends” with the information due to his public role.

He said: “I felt unable to trust even close friends in case my confidence was breached and my reputation damaged.

“I was reluctant to seek professional help as this would mean being labelled. I wanted to be strong for my family and not needy.

“The consequence of this isolation were long periods of depression and repeat cycles of behaviour which could have been curtailed and in the darkest of times a serious deterioration in my health could have been avoided.”

He added: “Mental health is a hidden secret in our Jewish communities, it is a big issue. There is also a great deal of pressure on us to be successful and some people perceive mental health issues as weakness.”

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