A regional daily editor has apologised after a column urging people suffering from depression to “quit moaning” and “get on with life” prompted a Twitter backlash from readers.
Members of the public and former staff at The News, Portsmouth, united to condemn the column by Clive Smith in which he argued some people claiming to have depression were “jumping on the bandwagon”.
Clive went on to mock sufferers of bipolar disorder, describing the condition as “all the rage at the moment.”
The column, which appeared in Tuesday’s print edition, was pulled from the paper’s website after dozens took to Twitter to voice their outrage, and now editor Mark Waldron has apologised for any offence caused.
In the piece, Clive wrote: “From time to time we all get dealt a bad card – some more than others. But life goes on. You can’t just retreat under the duvet with a bottle of Prosecco and bemoan your fate.
“Being down in the dumps doesn’t mean you’re depressed. Yes, your life has temporarily gone south but I reckon there’s a lot to be said for gritting your teeth and getting on with it.”
Clive said he did not deny that clinical depression was a real mental illness, but then added: “Why everyone needs to have a label lately is beyond me. Bipolar seems to be all the rage at the moment.”
On the issue of men talking openly about depression, he commented: “Everyone knows men don’t talk about things. The way some are dripping on these days is frankly embarrassing. So buck up boys and quit the moaning. It’s getting boring.”
Dave Bowers, a former journalist at The News, was among those who criticised the column on Twitter.
He wrote: “Horrified a paper at which I was once so proud to work should stoop so low to allow this.”
Broadcaster and comedian Iain Lee also voiced his discomfort, posting: “‘Bi-polar seems to be all the rage at the moment’ incredibly dangerous and ill thought out ‘article’.”
Others tweeted The News, calling on the paper to apologise for the column, which was also featured in its print edition.
Responding with a piece in yesterday’s edition, Mark told readers he felt it was important to allow “a wide range of views – not just the official line of The News” to be heard.
He added: “By supporting free speech, we encourage our columnists to spark debate, raise awareness of issues, challenge views, change perceptions and give their opinions on our local communities and the matters which affect them.
“Their thoughts may be provocative. They may be contrary to general opinion. But they are not intended to cause offence.
“However, it is clear that some readers were offended by the sentiments expressed in Clive Smith’s column about depression on Tuesday. This was never the aim and nor did the article deny the serious nature of depression. But for any offence caused, I do apologise.”
Mark cited The News’s regular coverage of mental health issues, including the Mental Health Team/Worker of the Year prize it presents at its annual Best of Health Awards.
He concluded: “The support and coverage we give will continue. And so will our commitment to giving voice to the wide variety of thoughts and opinions which are alive in the communities we serve.”