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Campbell speaks of "psychotic breakdown"

11th October 2006

Alastair Campbell has spoken about his battle with depression on television for the first time to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

The former Labour spin-doctor has broken his silence in order to help raise awareness of the commonplace nature of mental health illnesses and to emphasise that many people with such conditions are still able to work and do a good job.

He told the BBC One Lunchtime News programme that his problems went back many years.

"I first really had a problem back in the 1980s when I ended up in a hospital bed," he said.

"That probably was the first time I realised, because although family and friends could see all the signs coming – stress, drink, depression – I couldn't and I ended up having a pretty severe psychotic breakdown."

He added that while he worked for Tony Blair, the prime minister had been fully aware of his mental health history and difficulties with drink and depression and yet had had no doubts about his ability to do a good job.

"My point is that there are people with mental illness who could hold down a job perfectly well if they were given the change."

The government has announced a new scheme called Action on Stigma to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

Action on Stigma urges employers to voluntarily set up a set of anti-stigma principles in order to improve the workplace for people with mental illness.