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AM Bethan Jenkins hits out at internet trolling

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

Bethan Jenkins

Comments (15)

A POLITICIAN campaigning on mental health awareness has criticised the "point and laugh" mentality of internet trollers.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins was caught drink-driving last October and described her actions as a cry for help because she was suffering from depression.

As well as campaigning for better awareness and understanding, she has advised people with depression to seek help.

Now the regional AM for South Wales West has spoken out against so-called trolls — those who post offensive or upsetting comments online — following a response to one of her tweets.

It stated: "That last tweet makes no sense at all. You drunk again or just high on medication?"

Ms Jenkins, who was suspended from the party for a time following her conviction, said: "Since returning to work, I've been determined to work with mental health sufferers and charities to overcome both the problems and the stigma that they often face.

"On Monday, I had a really useful meeting with the charity Gofal, and agreed a programme of work with them.

"At the meeting we discussed, at some considerable length, the use of public role models to improve awareness.

"The comment I received on Twitter that evening gives some indication of the stigma that mental health sufferers face on a daily basis."

Ms Jenkins added: "Effectively, it's point and laugh. And while — in the minds of some — people who have mental health issues are little better than Victorian freaks, we have a long way to go until it is commonly accepted that this is an illness.

"It requires recognition and treatment in just the same way as any other illness."

Mrs Jenkins was stopped by police after driving erratically at 1.30am on October 14 last year.

She has said: "It was just some sort of cry for help. That was what it was more than anything."

She diagnosed herself with depression after reading about the condition online.

A car crash on the Rhigos mountain in 2005 also left her with post-traumatic stress disorder, causing panic attacks.

"I'm much less concerned for myself than I am for those sufferers who find it hard to have a voice, find it difficult to speak out, and who have to suffer in silence," she said of the trolling.

"Comments of this kind, while aimed at me, have the potential to affect all mental health sufferers.

"They will not encourage anyone who read them to come forward and admit to having these problems. Instead, they will feel isolated and alone."

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  • hacker_jack  |  February 15 2013, 8:17AM

    Pwyll. She claims to have depression which impaired her judgement. If that is true then her position is surely untenable? I never claimed anyone with any mental condition should stand down, I claimed that she with her as yet untreated condition should.

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  • Pwyll  |  February 14 2013, 10:26PM

    I apologise, I should have used the term awareness rather than knowledge.

  • Jiffy  |  February 14 2013, 10:19PM

    Jeez - how can Jenkins have increased knowledge of mental health issues when she's avoided having her problems diagnosed by a doctor? She's not seeing any mental health professionals, preferring to attend (when it suits her) meetings with other 'sufferers'. Throw in her claim to have post-traumatic stress disorder, all I'm seeing is a politician desperate to keep her job, using every excuse in the book. Is she afraid to see her doctor because she might be assessed as a alcoholic. By the way, the cumulative toxic effects of chronic alcohol abuse can cause both medical and psychiatric problems. Opps, that's putting the cart in front of the horse !

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  • Pwyll  |  February 14 2013, 9:54PM

    rivergirl - it seems a bot odd to tell all and sundry that you have no interest in Bethan Jenkins in the comments below a story about Bethan Jenkins. You obviously cared enough to read the story and comment on it, didn't you? Jiffy - I'm not sure why that post was addressed to me, as it doesn't answer any points I raised with respect to mental health. Whether self diagnosed or medically diagnosed the point stands that she is increasing knowledge about such conditions, which is surely a good thing. You say she has a serious drink problem and call her a drunkard, is this mentioned in the story? I am aware only of the case where she was stopped for drink driving, this is not necessarily a serious drink problem. MattSamms - I agree that she has broken the law, and should suffer the consequences. I also agree that she should now (which she appears to be trying to) continue with her duties as an elected official.

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  • Jiffy  |  February 14 2013, 9:34PM

    Pwyll - Bethan Jenkins claims she has a mental health problem. It's not been backed up by any medical evidence has it ? What we do know, is that she's got a serious drink problem. I don't want a drunkard in a position of authority. Why should I contribute to her earning enough to waste on booze, when there are people in Swansea surviving on food banks?

  • Jiffy  |  February 14 2013, 9:27PM

    HaroldMonk - you want censorship? Stop people from having an opinion or point of view? Stop us from questioning politicians about their blatant lies?

  • MattSamms  |  February 14 2013, 7:09PM

    What it comes down to is that Bethan Jenkins broke the law and has to pay the penalty. I am sure that magistrates up and down the land have all heard excuses as to why someone was over the drink drive limit. The fact that she is an AM and claims to be suffering from a form of depression is no real defence either before or after her conviction. Unlike Chris Huhne she managed to get a free pass from her party. I think she should recognise her good fortune and quietly get on with the job for which she was elected. If saying all that makes me a troll then things have reached a sorry state indeed.

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  • rivergirl  |  February 14 2013, 7:01PM

    Let's get real Pwyll. She was hardly going to plead not guilty having been pulled over in her jim-jams and found to be twice the legal limit, was she? Sorry and all that but I have problems of my own. I am not interested in Ms Jenkins condition and I don't want to read how she thinks she is being picked on.

  • HaroldMonk  |  February 14 2013, 6:48PM

    Time for some laws, clear laws on what can and can not be posted on a forum, blog etc. Carmarthenshire council boss is suing someone I Hear for what was said about him in a blog. Wher's the line?

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  • hywel79  |  February 14 2013, 6:18PM

    "She diagnosed herself with depression after reading about the condition online." say's it all really. far too much of this goes on these days and its one of the reasons people with real problems don't get taken seriously

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