Joanna Lumley has said she thinks people are jumping on the ‘mental illness bandwagon’ in a candid new interview.
In a chat on GB News, the TV presenter, 75, – who once spoke out about depression in her 20s – was asked about her work for mental health charity Mind.
She said: “I have to say – it’s a horrible thing to say – but I think the issue of mental health is overrated right now because anyone who’s even a little bit sad says they have issues. mental.
Have a say: Joanna Lumley said she thinks people are jumping on the ‘mental illness bandwagon’ in candid new interview
‘You go, ‘That’s called being human.’ When someone dies and you cry, it’s human. That’s being a human. You are not mentally ill.
“And I think it’s also horrible for people who are really mentally ill or are properly clinically depressed, that everybody says they need to get some kind of special treatment.
“And everyone is claiming the mental illness bandwagon and I think that’s not true.
“Although very mocked, stiff upper lip and not crying and trying to carry on…”
Honest: During an interview on GB News, the TV presenter, 75, – who once spoke of depression in her twenties – was asked about her work for mental health charity Mind
She added, “Just take a grip!” You know what I mean? Of course, some of you are going to feel terrible and some of you may well be suicidal or mentally depressed, that’s another thing.
“But anyone who just says ‘Oh burr’ – you just think, ‘Get over it.
Piers Morgan was quick to share his agreement on Twitter: “I LOVE this…Of course when I’ve regularly said similar things I’ve been called a heartless freak.”
“Maybe now that a national treasure as Dame Joanna said, people can understand that it’s actually a good thing to have some mental resilience and a bit of a ‘stiff upper lip’.
Candid: She told interviewer Isabel Oakeshott: ‘I have to say – it’s a horrible thing to say – but I think the issue of mental health is overrated right now’
Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna has previously been very open about her own mental health battles
In 2016, she revealed that a six-month breakdown left her crippled by panic attacks and feared assassins were trying to kill her.
The veteran actress described how she suffered a “complete nervous breakdown” in 1971 after believing she saw snipers pointing guns at her from the dressing rooms of the Garrick Theatre.
The episode led to a six-month psychotic breakdown that left the actress struggling to breathe and unable to leave her house.
Tough: She continued: ‘I think it’s horrible for people who are really mentally ill or who are properly clinically depressed, that everyone says they need to get some kind of special treatment’
She said: ‘It was a complete nervous breakdown. I then left that room, ran away from the room. It was a Saturday morning.
“I got up in the morning and went and sat in the corner of my room and thought for about an hour, then I went straight – like a deserter – to the station.”
Joanna’s depression occurred in her mid-twenties, as she struggled to raise her son, Jamie, as a single mother.
The actress fled to her parents’ home in Kent for six months to recuperate and revealed that at the height of her illness she had difficulty breathing.
She said: ‘I was away for six months. I was pretty shaken up. My nerves were gone. I dared not go to the stores. I had a very good old time. I spent the whole day thinking, “How am I going to spend the day? I’ve had these panic attacks when you think, “Inhale, exhale, keep inhaling.”
‘Study the flowers. What color are the flowers?’ Anything to keep your mind from going crazy. And I thought, I have to get out of this, how can I?
Joanna said she often imagines worst-case scenarios in order to boost confidence to leave the house for shopping.
She told The Times: ‘To try to get to the shops to buy food, I imagine the worst thing that can happen at every step. If I fell down, what would happen?
Difficult: Joanna’s depression occurred in her mid-twenties, when she struggled to raise her son, Jamie, as a single mother (pictured in 1994)
“Always the same answer came back into my head. ‘Someone will help you up.’ I’m going to fall on the floor and I have no pants on and I spill a bunch of drinks and they break. Now what? The same answer: ‘Someone is going to help you up.’
In 2011, the actress, who had previously described the ordeal as “a little shaky”, told Lord Bragg on the Living The Life Sky Arts series that she believed her depression stemmed from money worries.
She said: ‘It was hot pot on toast for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. There was nothing else to eat, we were so poor. I cut up towel racks to burn them on the fire. I was happy and it didn’t matter, but we were skinny and I couldn’t see how I would manage to be a good enough parent to my darling boy and how I could actually get through life.
The star revealed that hypnosis and talking to herself through her fears finally allowed her to regain her health and start attending auditions again.
Following her breakdown, the actress won a series of roles that saw her become a household name – including the role of Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous and secret agent Purdey in the 70s TV series The New Avengers.
If you suffer from depression, please call the Mind Charity helpline on 0300 123 3393 for confidential information.
Star: After her breakdown, the actress landed a series of roles that saw her become a household name – including the role of Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous