Labour's Nadia Whittome takes leave suffering from PTSD

Britain’s youngest MP Nadia Whittome, 24, announces she is suffering from PTSD and goes on leave – months after complaining about regular racist abuse on social media, hate mail and reporting death threats to police

  • Labour’s Nadia Whittome said she is taking ‘several weeks’ leave from Commons
  • 24-year-old said she has been diagnosed with PTSD and needs time to recover
  • In March she was handing regular death threats on social media to police 
  • In the past year she has been publicly debating LGBT rights and Israel/Palestine 
  • MP previously said trans debate must be ‘grounded in real-life experiences’ 
  • Keir Starmer wished Nottingham East MP ‘all the best’ and praised her ‘bravery’  

Britain’s youngest MP today announced she is taking ‘several weeks’ away from work on doctor’s orders after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) just weeks after complaining of death threats, racist abuse and incessant trolling online.

Labour’s Nadia Whittome, who represents Nottingham East, said she had come to the conclusion it is not ‘feasible’ to manage her condition alongside full-time work after battling ‘some persistent health issues’ over recent months.

She said: ‘On the advice of my doctor, I’m going to be taking some time away from work for health reasons. Constituents should continue to contact my office as normal – my staff will be there to assist you’. 

Miss Whittome was elected at the December 2019 election aged just 23, becoming the Baby of the House – the nickname for Parliament’s youngest MP. The details of what triggered her PTSD are not known, but she has recently spoken about receiving a slew online abuse since entering Parliament.

In March the Labour politician, who is of Indian descent, revealed she has been forced to go to the police over death threats and is regularly subjected to hate mail and racist abuse on social media, where she is active in debating trans and LGB rights as well as the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. 

She told The Independent: ‘I’ve had death threats. I don’t look at my social media comments. It is a bit irritating so much time from my staff team has to go into archiving hate mail and abuse’.

Labour's Nadia Whittome, who represents Nottingham East, said she had realised it is not 'feasible' to manage her condition alongside full-time work

Labour’s Nadia Whittome, who represents Nottingham East, said she had realised it is not ‘feasible’ to manage her condition alongside full-time work

The details of Ms Whittome's condition are not known, but she has previously spoken about receiving online abuse since entering Parliament

The details of Ms Whittome’s condition are not known, but she has previously spoken about receiving online abuse since entering Parliament

The ‘Baby of the House’ who likened Parliament to Hogwarts after being elected aged 23: How Remainer MP Nadia Whittome was inspired by her Labour activist mother 

Nadia Whittome, Labour’s representative for Nottingham East, was one of the youngest MPs in history after being elected at the age of 23. 

Miss Whittome, identifies as ‘queer’, and is one of 56 MPs who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. 

She was born to a Punjabi Sikh father and a Anglo-Indian Catholic solicitor mother in the city she represents, and has one brother.

Nadia said she was inspired to join Labour by her activist mother  and says she was politicised due to the effects of the Bedroom tax and austerity by the Tory Government.

After two years at Nottingham University she dropped out for financial reasons and got involved in local politics.

Prior to her election in 2019, she was a national committee member of the pro-Remain organisations Another Europe is Possible and Labour for a Socialist Europe. 

Ms Whittome, who became the UK’s youngest MP after gaining her seat in December in 2019, sparked a backlash from Twitter users after immediately comparing Parliament to Hogwarts, and comparing the Tories to ‘death eaters’, who regularly attack Harry Potter.

She told ITV’s Peston a month after her election: ‘It feels like joining Hogwarts but when the death eaters have taken over. I’ve got my acceptance letter but I’ve rocked up and Severus Snape is the headteacher, the death eaters are all teaching.’ 

She was later handed a shadow health job before being sacked for not abstaining on a Bill, and was fired from a care home during the pandemic after complaining about a lack of PPE.   

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She added: ‘It is probably in a sense not so bad for me as I don’t look at it. But my staff do and they are already doing a very difficult job. My team and I serve a constituency that has been hit very hard since 2010 with high levels of deprivation. Some of the cases we deal with are harrowing, so they don’t need to see racist abuse in their inbox as well. With death threats, we go to the police’.

The politician has been particularly outspoken on trans rights having said last year that the ‘very act of debate’ on the issue was leading to a ‘rollback of equality’. She was widely criticised for trying to stifle free speech.

She also recently claimed that ‘every woman I know has experienced male violence’ and was also outspoken on Israel’s bombing of Palestine and also expressed anger that the Israeli government wasn’t vaccinating Palestinians against COVID-19, despite Israelis pointing out that PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh insisted they wanted to get their jabs from ‘from friendly countries’.

Sir Keir Starmer said today that he wished the 24-year-old ‘all the best’ and respected her ‘bravery’ in speaking out about her mental health. The youngest MP in Parliament, who Nottingham East, has made headlines while voicing her concerns over trans rights and equality.  

In a statement explaining why she had disclosed the nature of her illness, she said: ‘I feel it is important for me to be honest that it is mental ill-health I am suffering from – specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

‘One in four people will experience mental health problems each year, but there is still a great deal of shame and stigma surrounding it.

‘Through being open about my own mental health struggle, I hope that others will also feel able to talk about theirs, and that I can play a small role in creating greater acceptance and facilitating healthier discussions around this issue.’

She added: ‘Unfortunately, it has become clear that this is not feasible and I have been advised by my doctor that I need to take several weeks off in order for my health to improve.’ 

Ms Whittome thanked Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer and his political secretary Jenny Chapman for their ‘kindness’ and added that her staff would continue to support constituents .

Sir Keir said: ‘I wish Nadia all the best and hope she gets well soon. I respect Nadia’s bravery in speaking openly about her mental health and I look forward to welcoming her back to Parliament.’

The chief executive of a leading mental health charity praised Ms Whittome’s transparency.

Nadia Whittome, Labour, gains a seat for Nottingham East in December 2019, elected at the age of 23 and becoming the 'Baby of the House'. She then compared Parliament to Harry Potter's Hogwarts

Nadia Whittome, Labour, gains a seat for Nottingham East in December 2019, elected at the age of 23 and becoming the ‘Baby of the House’. She then compared Parliament to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts

I hope my mental health struggles will help others, says Labour MP taking ‘weeks’ away from her work in Parliament

Nadia Whittome, 24, said she has been battling ‘some persistent health issues’ over recent months.

She said in a statement: ‘Until now, I have been attempting to manage them alongside continuing with my full-time work as an MP.

‘Unfortunately, it has become clear that this is not feasible and I have been advised by my doctor that I need to take several weeks off in order for my health to improve.

‘I feel it is important for me to be honest that it is mental ill-health I am suffering from – specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

‘Through being open about my own mental health struggle, I hope that others will also feel able to talk about theirs, and that I can play a small role in creating greater acceptance and facilitating healthier discussions around this issue’

‘One in four people will experience mental health problems each year, but there is still a great deal of shame and stigma surrounding it’. 

She thanked Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer and his political secretary Jenny Chapman for their ‘kindness’ and added that her staff would continue to support constituents . 

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Mark Winstanley, from Rethink Mental Illness, said: ‘The enduring stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace can be hugely damaging, preventing people from accessing support and leading them to prioritise work over their own wellbeing for fear of judgment.

‘Being signed off from work for poor mental health is not a sign of weakness, but a recognition that wellbeing should always be a priority.

‘We welcome Nadia’s openness around her diagnosis and wish her well in her recovery.’

Miss Whittome has represented the city she was born in since 2019, having been inspired to join Labour by her activist mother.

Born to an Indian father and Anglo-Indian mother, she studied at university in Nottingham before dropping out for financial reasons.

After an attempt to get elected to the local council, she was then selected to stand as the MP for Nottingham East.

She was elected in December 2019 at the age of 23, making her amongst the youngest people to be elected to Parliament.

In the past 16 months she has hit the headlines on several occasions.

In January 2020 she sparked backlash from Twitter users after comparing Parliament to Hogwarts.

She told ITV’s Peston in January: ‘It feels like joining Hogwarts but when the death eaters have taken over. I’ve got my acceptance letter but I’ve rocked up and Severus Snape is the headteacher, the death eaters are all teaching.’

One social media user described the comments as ‘just dreadful’ while another posted: ‘Cringe.’

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