CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

HEALTH – MENTAL BREAKDOWN AND WEAKNESS – 14 September 2012

Dr Julian Lewis: I am greatly enjoying my hon. Friend's [Robert Buckland's] speech. His point about the idea of mental illness being equated with weakness brings to mind a famous radio lecture given by Viscount Slim of Burma, who pointed out that even the most courageous warriors will eventually break down if they are not rested and supported by their commanding officers and, indeed, that courage is a little like a bank account: one can be overdrawn for a certain amount of time, but not indefinitely. Some of the bravest and most courageous people are just as liable to mental breakdown if they are not properly understood and supported as somebody who would never for a moment go into those hazardous situations.

[Mr Buckland: My hon. Friend brings a great hero of mine to our attention: Field Marshal the Viscount Slim, leader of the forgotten army, a man who led an outstandingly courageous operation in the far east. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to bring that huge experience to bear in this debate, which allows me to make an important point. We must be very careful when we use words such as “vulnerable”, because many people I know who have mental health conditions – I am sure other Members of the House know such people – would not like to be described as vulnerable. Often they are very tough people indeed who have gone through the toughest of circumstances.]