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Mental health almost held Davidson from going into politics

Ruth Davidson
Ruth Davidson Image credit:

Ruth Davidson has revealed she was diagnosed with clinical depression during her first year of university which almost stopped her from running for the Scottish Conservative leader.

She became leader in November 2011 holding the position until 2019.

Lady Davidson said being diagnosed about 20 years when mental health was rarely discussed was tough, she felt “shameful” and “didn’t want anyone to know”.

Speaking on the Desperately Seeking Wisdom podcast she told presenter Craig Oliver she wanted to discuss mental illness “on my own terms” and "own the way in which it was presented".

Recalling the time when her depression was made public Davidson said: "I considered not throwing my hat in the ring for leader in case my medical history came out.

"I'm trying to remember dates, but I became leader in 2011, so it would be after the press got hold of Gordon Brown's children's medical records, which felt like a really egregious breach.

"But the idea that the papers had the power to find out and open up people's medical records, why wouldn't somebody want to find that out about the new leader of the Tories in Scotland?"

During her time in politics Davidson worked with the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), she just wish such a service was available when she was diagnosed with depression.

She said: "I think at that time, I was just starting at uni, I had big dreams, everyone does - but the idea that you could go on and have a big job, that you could be in the public eye, you could be in politics at all, and have this big, shameful secret... it didn't occur to me.

"I thought that that was my ambition over. I hope that somebody out there was helped by the fact that they could see, you know, a politician or Prince Harry talking about it.

"When you see people in a space that you're interested in, I hope it helps."

Davidson believes her mental health can be traced back to when she was 17 after a local boy took his own life. After hearing the news she started to self-harm and was later diagnosed with depression the following year.

If you are struggling with mental health or experiencing suicidal thoughts you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK and Ireland) or visit their website.