Ruth Davidson says mental health history meant she almost did not run as Scottish Tory leader

·2-min read

The former leader of the Scottish Conservatives has revealed she almost did not run for the position in case her mental health history became known.

Ruth Davidson, who was diagnosed with clinical depression in her first year at university, said people did not talk about mental health issues as much at the time, saying: "It was very shameful. I didn't want anyone to know."

The Tory peer told the Desperately Seeking Wisdom with Craig Oliver podcast she was concerned her medical history would come out when she considered standing for the role in 2011.

Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links said she wanted to be able to talk about her mental health "on my own terms" so she could "own the way in which it was presented".

Lady Davidson, who served as an MSP from 2011 to 2021, said: "Actually, I considered not throwing my hat in the ring for leader in case my medical history, that came out.

"I'm trying to remember dates, but I became leader in 2011, so it would be after the press got hold of Gordon Brown's children's medical records, which felt like a really egregious breach.

"But the idea that the papers had the power to find out and open up people's medical records, why wouldn't somebody want to find that out about the new leader of the Tories in Scotland?"

Lady Davidson has worked with mental health charity the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) during her political career and said she was pleased to open up about mental health issues.

She said it would have helped her at the time of her own diagnosis to see someone speaking out.

"I think at that time, I was just starting at uni, I had big dreams, everyone does - but the idea that you could go on and have a big job, that you could be in the public eye, you could be in politics at all, and have this big shameful secret... it didn't occur to me," she said.

"I thought that that was my ambition over. I hope that somebody out there was helped by the fact that they could see, you know, a politician or Prince Harry talking about it.

"When you see people in a space that you're interested in, I hope it helps."

It comes as the NHS is using a Beatles song "Help!" to encourage people to take better care of their mental health.

The campaign launch coincides with "Blue Monday" which some claim is the most difficult day of the year.