Don't 'suffer in silence': Support for Havering Council leader floods in

Councillor Damian White, leader of Havering Council.

Cllr White encouraged anyone going through difficult times to reach out for help. - Credit: Mark Sepple/Havering Council

The leader of Havering Council has been “overwhelmed by positive messages" offering him support for his mental health over news that he attempted suicide in 2016.   

Cllr Damian White said a drug-driving conviction was a result of an attempt on his own life as he struggled to accept he was gay.  

He told this newspaper: "Throughout my life, I have struggled with my mental health, with particular dark periods, which have been worsened by bullying, harassment and intimidation.”  

MindOut charity, which is run by and for LGBTQ people, said: "Research confirms that mental health conditions, self-harm and suicide are far higher in LGBTQ communities than the rest of the population.  

“This is due to experiences of discrimination, social rejection, prejudice, stigma and hate crime.” 

Cllr White said he has realised “no one should ever suffer in silence or be made to feel worthless”, and stressed there is "always help available”.

He said: "Reflecting on my experiences has helped me realise that no one should ever suffer in silence or made to feel worthless.

"Whilst it may be difficult to find when you are feeling desperate, there is always help available." 

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MindOut provides safe spaces to offer support with a range of mental health issues.  

Cllr White said he is “indebted” to the Samaritans who helped him through “tough times” and he encouraged others to reach out to support groups.  

He said: "No matter what anyone tells you, you matter."

Thanks to a “strong support network”, he is now “comfortable and happy” with who he is, but shared that it “took a long time”.  

Contact MindOut on 01273 234839, or find out more at https://mindout.org.uk/

Anybody struggling with the issues raised in this article can also contact the Samaritans by dialling 116 123 or emailing jo@samaritans.org.