Julia Gillard, Australia’s former prime minister has revealed about her own battle with mental health during her political career in an interview with a local Tv station. When I saw the interview I wasn’t surprised because she’s not gonna be the first and last Prime Minister of Australia to face such but telling the story of how she coped with stress and abuse on social media will definitely help others to manage it.Common mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety disorders, are common among working age population including politicians.In the case of Julia Gillard, I see this challenge from a variety of perspectives. In my view, an important part of the solution is to better equip bosses to manage people, regardless of whether a mental health disorder is involved.Ms Gillard said her years as Premier were marked by “times of very high stress and pressure”. “I had to think carefully about my own mental health,” she added. “You could look at social media and see some dreadful things about yourself and I made some very conscious decisions about how much of that I was going to lock out of my head, rather than let it get in a really profoundly affect me.”For Gillard, the main struggles relate to coping with premiership practices, excessive workloads, little control over their work, demands to do more, and interpersonal conflict especially among the labor party. Its hard to forget how Gillard was kicked out as prime minister by Kevin Rudd in 2013 whom she had ousted in 2010 after a bitter infighting in the Labor government.”Obviously everybody has moments of anxiety, and I had moments of anxiety, but I did think about what I needed to do to protect my mental health when I was in the rigours of public life,” she said. “As I looked at very negative media headlines, dreadful things on social media and I did consciously think, I’ve got some choices to make now about how much I let of this into my head.” “I’ve got some choices about how much I brood, or whether I go to bed and sleep soundly. I made some very deliberate choices, so I wouldn’t let it get in my head, I would sleep soundly at night.”
Also, Gillard said “Should we ever have such a plebiscite, then I think there would be a lot of weight on everyone, including all political participants from all political parties, to make sure that the debate was respected.” “I would be concerned that that kind of debate could have within it some very jarring voices which would compound this problem of stigma.”For Gillard and other public figures, the challenge is in trying to motivate and engage yourself when stressed, to manage daily challenges with little or no support, or to manage own work when overloaded and stressed. As Australia’s first and only female prime minister, sexism and threats of violence and rape were well documented online. In the interview, Gillard says there was still a long way to go to address the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety, conditions which affect an estimated three million Australians.”Together we can save and improve lives if we change how we talk, think and act on mental health and suicidality,” she said in a statement. Preventing suicide will be a key focus for the organization in the coming years, Gillard has added. “The rhythm of politics has been profoundly disrupted by the changes to the media cycle and the advent of social media, so the way in which the electorate perceives and sees politics and politicians is different now,” Gillard said. “The thing that concerns me, and this is a question for the media as much as it’s a question for today’s politicians, whether they’re US politicians, or Australian politicians or anywhere else in the world.” The former premier also dropped a banter on media by saying “The media caravan wants to very quickly move on and I saw that when I was prime minister. You would literally announce a multi-billion-dollar, huge new policy in a blue room press conference mid-morning, and by mid-day journalists from the press gallery would be ringing my press secretary saying, ‘have you got a story for us?'”When it comes to her facing sexism, i think the nature and impact of sexist actions that are more subtle, insidious, and frequent are less well-understood and thats what she could have faced. What however wasn’t clear in the interview is what kind of sexism she faced. I can only think of two types of sexism she could have faced, the less intense, normative sexism which may not have affected her occupational well-being as Prime minister. Such forms of sexism only lead to minor negative outcomes, if any.On the other hand, she could have faced covert sexism which is so effective at causing harm is as it is typically wrapped in normal communication or interactions at work which is part of Prime Minister’s life.