A HARLOW Conservative councillor has revealed that he has not attended any full council meetings since November due to a diagnosed mental health condition.
Sumners and Kingsmoor councillor Nick Churchill last attended a meeting in November. He has continued to chair the Licensing Committee meetings at the Civic Offices in The Water Gardens HQ.
YH put a number of questions to Cllr Churchill and the leader of the Harlow Conservative group, cllr Andrew Johnson.
Cllr Johnson said: “The Harlow Conservative Group expects its members to attend Full Council meetings where they are able to, acknowledging that sometimes councillors have other priorities including other meetings and personal commitments, including difficulties caused by meetings being moved as last Full Council was at short notice.
“ However, in the case of Cllr Nick Churchill this question gives us the chance to talk about an important issue that too often in the past has been ignored by the press and politicians, and out of respect for Nick, the Conservative Group has not publicly spoken about his personal circumstances until he was comfortable.
“Pastoral care is taken very seriously by the Conservative Group on Harlow Council.
“ Nick was living with undiagnosed anxiety and depression until it was recognised after his heart attack.
“ This illness does not make Nick less effective as a councillor, as anyone who has seen him at other committees will know. I have asked Nick to avoid situations that contribute to making his illness worse.
Nick has identified the Punch-and-Judy style of politics at Full Council, which puts many people off politics, as something that particularly affects his mental health. The Conservative Group fully supports
Nick’s decision to confront and talk openly about his mental ill-health.
Cllr Nick Churchill said: “I am suffering from chronic anxiety syndrome and depression and since my heart attack I have developed PTSD.
“The anxiety went undiagnosed for 40 years and I only received a diagnosis following my heart attack in 2014.
“My focus has always been on ensuring that I remain an active ward councillor. I also find that council committees are the best vehicles for getting things done for the residents that I represent. I am happy to attend Full Council meetings, but I must be cautious about putting myself in situations that risk setting back my journey to better mental health.
“I hope that by being honest about my own mental ill-health that people facing similar challenges are encouraged to seek help. There should be no barriers preventing anyone from speaking out or accessing the support they need to improve their own mental wellbeing.”
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