Joanna Lumley slams people for jumping on 'mental illness bandwagon'

‘Just get a grip!’ Joanna Lumley slams people for jumping on the ‘mental health bandwagon’ and says it’s ‘awful for people who’re actually clinically ill’

  • If you are struggling with depression, please call the Mind Charity helpline at 0300 123 3393 for confidential information 
  • Joanna Lumley has said that she thinks people are jumping on the ‘mental illness bandwagon’ in a candid new interview.  

    During a chat on GB News the TV presenter, 75, – who has previously spoken about having a breakdown in her 20s – was asked about her work supporting the mental health charity Mind.

    She said: ‘I have to say – this is a horrible thing to say – but I think the mental health thing is being overplayed at the moment because anybody who is even remotely sad says they have got mental problems.  








    Having her say: Joanna Lumley has said that she thinks people are jumping on the 'mental illness bandwagon' in a candid new interview

    Having her say: Joanna Lumley has said that she thinks people are jumping on the ‘mental illness bandwagon’ in a candid new interview

    ‘You go, ‘This is what is called being human.’ When someone dies and you grieve, that’s human. That’s what being a human is. You’re not mentally ill.

    ‘And I think it also is awful to people who really are mentally ill or are properly clinically depressed, for everybody to say they’ve got to have some sort of special treatment. 

    ‘And everyone’s claiming the mental illness bandwagon and I think that’s wrong.

    ‘Although much derided, the stiff upper lip and not blubbing and trying to get on with it…’

    Honest: During an interview on GB News the TV presenter, 75, - who has previously spoken about having a breakdown in her 20s - was asked about her work supporting the mental health charity Mind

    Honest: During an interview on GB News the TV presenter, 75, – who has previously spoken about having a breakdown in her 20s – was asked about her work supporting the mental health charity Mind

    She added: ‘Just get a grip! Do you know what I mean? Of course some of you are going to feel bloody awful and some of you may well be suicidal or mentally depressed, that’s a different thing.

    ‘But anybody who just goes, ‘Oh burr’ – you just think, ‘Get over it.’ 

    Piers Morgan was quick to share his agreement tweeted: ‘LOVE this…Of course, when I’ve regularly said similar stuff, I’ve been branded a heartless monster.

    ‘Perhaps now a national treasure like Dame Joanna’s said it, people may understand it’s actually a good thing to show mental resilience & a bit of ‘stiff upper lip.’

    Candid: She said to interviewer Isabel Oakeshott: 'I have to say - this is a horrible thing to say - but I think the mental health thing is being overplayed at the moment'

    Candid: She said to interviewer Isabel Oakeshott: ‘I have to say – this is a horrible thing to say – but I think the mental health thing is being overplayed at the moment’

    Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna has previously been very open about her own mental health battles

    In 2016 she revealed a six-month breakdown left her crippled with panic attacks and fearing assassins were trying to kill her.

    The veteran actress described how she suffered from a ‘complete nervous breakdown’ in 1971 after she thought she saw snipers levelling rifles at her from the boxes of the Garrick Theatre.

    The episode led to a six month psychotic breakdown which left the actress struggling to breathe and unable to leave her home. 

    Tough: She continued: 'I think it is awful to people who really are mentally ill or are properly clinically depressed, for everybody to say they've got to have some sort of special treatment'

    Tough: She continued: ‘I think it is awful to people who really are mentally ill or are properly clinically depressed, for everybody to say they’ve got to have some sort of special treatment’

    She said: ‘It was a complete nervous breakdown. I then quit that play, ran away from the play. It was a Saturday morning.

    ‘I got up in the morning and went and sat in the corner of my bedroom and I thought for about an hour and then I went straight – like a deserter – I went to the station.’

    Joanna’s breakdown occurred in her mid-20s, while the she was struggling to raise her son, Jamie, as a single mother.

    The actress fled to her parents’ home in Kent for six months to recover and revealed that, at the height of her illness, she was left struggling to breathe. 








    She said: ‘I was off for six months. I was pretty badly shaken up. My nerves were gone. I didn’t dare go to the shops. I had a really ropey old time. I was spending all day thinking, ‘How will I get through the day’ I had those panic attacks when you think, ‘Breathe in, breathe out, just keep breathing in. 

    ‘Study the flowers. What colour are the flowers?’ Anything to stop your mind going mad. And I thought, I’ve got to get out of this, how do I?’

    Joanna said she would often imagine worst case scenarios in order to spur confidence to leave the house to go shopping.

    She told The Times: ‘To try and make myself get out to shops to buy food I would imagine the worst thing that could happen at each stage. If I fell over on the floor, what would happen? 

    Difficult: Joanna's breakdown occurred in her mid-20s, while the she was struggling to raise her son, Jamie, as a single mother (pictured in 1994)

    Difficult: Joanna’s breakdown occurred in her mid-20s, while the she was struggling to raise her son, Jamie, as a single mother (pictured in 1994)

    ‘Always the same answer came back in my head. ‘Somebody will help you up.’ I will fall over on the floor and I haven’t got any pants on and I knock over a pile of drinks and they smash. Now what? The same answer: ‘Somebody will help you up.’

    In 2011 the actress, who previously described the ordeal as ‘a bit of a wobbler,’ told Lord Bragg on the Living The Life Sky Arts series she believed her breakdown was born on money worries.

    She said: ‘It was Marmite on toast for breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. There was nothing else to eat, we were so poor. I chopped up towel rails to burn on the fire. I was happy and it didn’t matter but we were skint and I couldn’t see how I would manage to be a good enough parent to my darling boy and how I would actually get through life.’








    The star revealed that hypnosis and talking herself through her fears eventually enabled her to reason herself back to health and start attending auditions once more.

    Following her breakdown, the actress won a string of roles that saw her become a household name – including the role of Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous and crime-fighting secret agent Purdey in 70s television series The New Avengers.   

    If you are struggling with depression, please call the Mind Charity helpline at 0300 123 3393 for confidential information 

    Star: Following her breakdown, the actress won a string of roles that saw her become a household name - including the role of Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous

    Star: Following her breakdown, the actress won a string of roles that saw her become a household name – including the role of Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous