Churchill in a straitjacket

churchill-straitjacket.jpgAs part of an anti-stigma campaign, mental health charity Rethink has unveiled a statue of Winston Churchill in a strait-jacket, to highlight the great war-leader’s struggles with mental illness.

Churchill was subject to severe bouts of clinical depression throughout his life (which he called his “black dog”). Despite these, he managed to lead and inspire millions of people through the difficult years of World War Two.

Demonstrating that there’s still some way to go before stigma is eradicated, the headline in one UK national daily newspaper, the Daily Express, is “Insult to Britain’s Greatest Hero”.

This leads me to ask, what is so insulting about the image? Actually putting someone in a strait-jacket is insulting, but depicting them in one is something quite different.

Although an outdated clich√©, the strait-jacket symbolises mental illness to many people and the statue is just meant to emphasise Churchill’s experience of mental distress

I’ve personally used Churchill as an example of hope to many patients I’ve met in psychiatric hospital and it usually comes as a surprise that he was mentally ill.

Hopefully, the controversy has served its purpose and more people are now aware that great things can come from troubled minds.

Link to ‘Churchill sculpture sparks uproar’ from BBC News.

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