'Hypocritical' lockdown skeptics are 'weaponising mental health', Natasha Devon says

22 January 2021, 15:45

By Fiona Jones

Natasha Devon tells James O'Brien she is campaigning for the media to approach mental health in a more mindful way, as lockdown skeptics are using it as an excuse to fulfil their own agenda.

Mental health campaigner and LBC presenter Natasha Devon has signed an open letter, along with other campaigners, charity leader and academics, calling for the media to help stop mental health from being 'weaponised' by lockdown sceptics.

Natasha told James she was "angry" at the fact she and other campaigners have worked tirelessly for a decade to have mental health discussed in a positive way.

"There's limited space for these issues to be discussed and our voices have been appropriated and this issue has been co-opted by so called lockdown skeptics," Natasha said, pointing out anti-lockdown voices are part of the culture war and completely political ideology, nothing to do with mental health.

"This idea that lockdown skeptics speak for the mental health community, that they represent us, is a complete fallacy," Natasha said, pointing out that she talks to people with mental health issues every day and none of them are anti-lockdown.

If mental health is discussed in the media, it should be to truly raise awareness and also to signpost towards mental health charities and campaigners.

James said there is hypocrisy at play, as there are some anti-lockdown voices who "suddenly have discovered a deep concern for problems that they denied the existence of up until the beginning of last year."

Natasha agreed and in the open letter she signed, she asked for the media to be extra vigilant about the intentions behind people citing mental health as a reason to resist lockdown: "Is the person speaking because they genuinely want to raise awareness? Or are they speaking because their real intention is to lobby against lockdowns?"

"They're reaching for any weapon they can find, regardless of whether they are honest or not," James said, quoting the letter which pointed out that even if there was no lockdown, mental health would still exist and people would still fear leaving their homes due to conditions such as anxiety.

James continued: "I can't quite believe I have to say these words out loud, but you have people claiming that mental health is being impacted by lockdown while completely ignoring the impact of mental health that having a relative die might have."

"People who use the word snowflake as a pejorative now have a concern for issues that they previously denied."

For lockdown skeptics who are framing this in a binary fashion, "lockdown equals bad mental health" and "liberty equals good mental health", it is "extremely unhelpful."

There is an extensive roster of signatories on the open letter, including high profile campaigners, medical professionals, charities and Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition former chair Dr Pooky Knightsmith.