Drugs and alcohol minister resigns due to 'post-traumatic stress'

Elena Whitham told the First Minister she is receiving treatment.

Scotland’s drugs and alcohol minister Elena Whitham resigns over ‘post-traumatic stress’ Scottish Government

Scotland’s drugs and alcohol minister has resigned from her post due to mental ill health.

Elena Whitham said over the last year she had “experienced a series of events leading to post-traumatic stress”.

The MSP said the condition has “greatly impacted” her wellbeing.

Whitham joined the Scottish Government in November 2022 as community safety minister.

She was appointed to her current role in Humza Yousaf’s Government in March last year after he became First Minister.

The Scottish Government is due to make a statement on minimum unit pricing of alcohol on Thursday. This will instead be carried out by health secretary Michael Matheson, officials said.

Elena Whitham said she had been ‘greatly impacted’ by post-traumatic stress.

In her resignation letter to the First Minister, Whitham said: “Over the last year I experienced a series of events leading to post-traumatic stress which has impacted my wellbeing greatly and for which I am receiving treatment.

“I have sought to undertake my role in your Government diligently and with the passion and focus that it requires.

“Sadly, after much soul searching, it is apparent to me that I must regrettably resign from my ministerial role so that I am able to look after my wellbeing and ensure my constituents of Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley continue to be represented assiduously.”

She continued: “It is imperative that we strive with all of our might to continue our efforts to save and improve lives as we have lost far too many of our folk to wholly preventable deaths.”

Serving as a minister has been an “honour”, she added.

Yousaf thanked her for her efforts to tackle drug and alcohol deaths in Scotland.

The First Minister said he was “greatly saddened” that personal ill health meant Whitham could not “continue to give the role the focus that you would wish to”.

He told her: “I wanted you to be aware of how greatly I have valued your efforts to tackle alcohol and drug-related deaths – not least the work to take forward proposals for reviewing drug laws.”

Praising her “dedication” in her previous community safety post, the First Minister added: “I believe our Government has been enriched by your efforts and the experience that you have brought into public life.”

A new drugs and alcohol minister will be appointed in due course, the Scottish Government said.

It comes a day after the First Minister spoke out about his own mental health struggles, saying at one point he was in a “state of breakdown”.

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