Humza Yousaf has opened up about his struggles with poor mental health, saying at one point he was in a “state of breakdown”.
The First Minister said he “didn’t move” from his settee for 24 hours in 2016 as he dealt with the end of his first marriage and his job as transport minister at the time.
Speaking to former spokesperson for Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell, and ex-Tory MP Rory Stewart, the SNP leader said he felt he had no one to turn to.
He told the Rest is Politics podcast: “I remember the day that I knew I needed help. I was transport minister, my first marriage had broken down, a really tough time I was having.
“I remember it was the middle of difficult weather. Transport minister is always a difficult job and I didn’t really feel I had anybody to turn to.
“And I remember actually just a whole day passing. I literally did not move from the right hand side of my settee.
“For a whole 24 hours, I didn’t move, didn’t get up to drink water, didn’t go to the toilet, didn’t eat anything.
“I remember just almost being in a state of breakdown, crying and upset, and not really understanding what I was upset at but then at that point, 24 hours later, knowing I needed help.
“And actually the first person I saw wasn’t actually somebody to help with counselling, it was a friend who is a psychiatrist and I called him and he said, ‘look I think instead of talking to me you need to go talk to somebody who can really talk through the issues that you’re dealing with’.”
‘I thought if they knew I’ll not be in a job’
Yousaf said he never spoke with any of his colleagues, including then-first minister Nicola Sturgeon, about his mental health.
He said there was “100%” a stigma around mental health issues.
He continued: “I actually thought if they know about it I’ll not be in a job. Now, I don’t think that would have been the case, I think Nicola would have been perfectly understanding, as would my government colleagues.
“John Swinney, who I’ve always been close to, I think these people would have been very understanding.
“But it was just, you didn’t hear about ministers with mental health challenges.
“If they did have mental health challenges they left the job and I didn’t feel like I wanted to necessarily leave at that point.
“But yeah, I didn’t tell anybody actually, and family, nobody actually knew about it.”
Yousaf said he had not received any counselling as First Minister but said “I absolutely should check in.”
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