Joanna Lumley Believes Some People Overplay Mental Health Issues: ‘It’s What Being Human Is’

Dame Joanna Lumley has suggested many people are jumping on the “mental illness bandwagon”, which she believes is detrimental to people “who really are mentally ill or are properly clinically depressed”.

The Absolutely Fabulous star said those who experience emotions such as grief are just being “human” and are “not mentally ill”, and praised the British “stiff upper lip” in the face of personal challenges.

The 75-year-old made the comments during an interview about her animal welfare campaigning to journalist and GB News presenter Isabel Oakeshott.

Joanna Lumley

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The actor said: “I have to say – this is a horrible thing to say – but I think the mental health thing is being overplayed at the moment because anybody who is even remotely sad says they have got mental problems.

“You go, ‘This is what is called being human’.

“When someone dies and you grieve, that’s human. That’s what being a human is. You’re not mentally ill.

“And I think it also is awful to people who really are mentally ill or are properly clinically depressed, for everybody to say they’ve got to have some sort of special treatment.

“And everyone’s claiming the mental illness bandwagon and I think that’s wrong.

“Although much derided, the stiff upper lip and not blubbing and trying to get on with it…”

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Dame Joanna quoted a poem by 19th century British-Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon, which features the words: “Life is mostly froth and bubble / Two things stand like stone / Kindness in another’s trouble / Courage in your own.”

She added: “And if you think of that, just get a grip. Do you know what I mean?

“Of course some of you are going to feel bloody awful and some of you may well be suicidal or mentally depressed, that’s a different thing.

“But anybody who just goes, ‘Oh burr’ – you just think, ‘Get over it’.”

Joanna was made a dame in the New Year Honours for services to drama, entertainment and charitable causes.

She was made an OBE in 1995 and received the Bafta TV Fellowship at a star-studded ceremony in 2017.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI – this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email [email protected]
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.

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