A STATES Member who recently came under scrutiny for his behaviour has spoken about the impact of his political role on his mental health – as professional counselling sessions are now being offered to Jersey’s politicians for the first time.
Deputy Max Andrews, an independent politician representing St Helier North, was recently censured for breaching the Code of Conduct for Members. Deputy Andrews and Deputy Moz Scott – who used to sit on the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel together before Deputy Andrews resigned in March – were separately referred to commissioner for standards Dr Melissa McCullough earlier this year. Following her investigation, the commissioner found that Deputy Andrews had breached Article 5 of the Code of Conduct for elected officials, and should issue an apology.
In the apology he read to the Assembly, he said he was ‘pleased to see action has now been taken to assist States Members with the provision of counselling’. He added: ‘This was a much-needed resource that I needed over this extended period of time which was not available until now.’
On the latest episode of Bailiwick Podcasts, he elaborated on the introduction of these services.
He said: ‘Had the counselling not been put into place, then we would still be failing our own politicians, including myself. In some respects, it was very difficult that I had to live through this experience, but at least someone else who may be encountering difficulties in the future will have a provision of mental-health support, because it’s a pressurised job.
‘There was hardly any support in place,’ Deputy Andrews continued. ‘We are left to our own devices, and I find for the new Members, it’s quite easy to make mistakes, because you don’t have people there to ask questions of, unless you are closely affiliated to politicians previously serving.
‘In a way I see it as a Deputy Andrews experiment that didn’t go very well, but at least in the future, hopefully politicians will have something in place, a provision, a service to help them, so they don’t have to relive what I had to.’
Constable Karen Shenton-Stone, who chairs the Privileges and Procedures Committee, said that while there had ‘always been some sort of pastoral care in place’, now this care was more structured.
‘There is now a professional service with counselling/psychotherapy sessions available. You can ask for that support, and it can be used by all Members,’ she said. ‘There is a small take-up, but it might be good in future for certain Members to know that it is there. We’re always evolving and always listening.’
Listen to the Bailiwick Podcasts at https://bailiwickexpress.transistor.fm/episodes/the-interview-had-the-counselling-not-been-put-in-place-we-would-still-be-failing-our-politicians.