Journalist and newsreader Huw Edwards has opened up about his battles with his mental health – and says that at his lowest points, he can’t get out of bed. The Welsh broadcaster, most known for leading BBC’s News At Ten, has bravely spoken out about his experiences with depression that tend to “hit” him unexpectedly “in a strong wave” and then fade.
Speaking to Men’s Health UK magazine, Huw said it’s “pretty clear” that he has suffered with depression in the past, and continues to do so now, and explained that the condition can cause him to struggle to make decisions, dread going to work and, ultimately, struggle to get out of bed.
“I’m pretty clear that I have suffered – and do suffer – from depression,” he told magazine columnist and mental health campaigner Alastair Campbell. “It’s not anxiety, although it includes anxiety, but it tends to hit me in a strong wave and then go away… I think at least I now know when I’m going to enter a phase like that.”
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“Your mind goes into a place where you don’t want to do anything. You can’t make any decisions,” he added. “Things that you usually enjoy, you dread. You come into work and obviously you do a professional job, but you’re kind of pushing your way through it.
“And, of course, if it’s very bad – as it has been a few times over the course of 20 years – you can’t work. During the worst one I had, I couldn’t get out of bed.”
Among Huw’s laundry list of achievements in journalism and broadcasting, he’s presented the BBC’s coverage of several major royal events, including the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as well as various key UK political events including the 2019 general election.
Huw has also served as the BBC’s chief presenter on BBC News at Six and BBC News at One and is set to anchor the majority of the BBC’s coverage of the upcoming Jubilee Celebrations. You can read about the big Jubilee events taking place across Wales here. But while he’s certainly earned his place on our small screens, his mind has often been filled with memories of the negativity he experienced at the start of his BBC career and the reaction he received from fellow BBC colleagues when he first opened up about his struggles with his mental health.
“When I think back 20 years to me getting The Ten job, it took a long time to stop having a thin skin about people having a pop. ‘Why is this Welsh guy doing the news? Why doesn’t he sod off back to Cardiff and do the news there? All he does is read an autocue! Get rid of him!’” he told Men’s Health UK. “You can laugh it off but if it’s every bloody week. I wasn’t used to it. I was used to being told I was brilliant. My mistake was thinking you can please all of the people. And you can’t. You have to be grown up enough to just accept that.”
Mind Cymru – mental health charity working across Wales to support people in their communities. Call the infoline on 0300 123 33 93 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm for information on mental health problems, where to get help near you, treatment options, advocacy services. Mind can also be contacted by email: [email protected]
Hafal – member-led charity supporting people with mental health problems, with a special emphasis on those with serious mental illness, and their carers and families. Phone: 01792 816 600/832 400 or email [email protected]
Beat Cymru – help, online support and self-help groups across Wales helping people who have eating disorders. Phone: 0845 634 14 14, or the youth helpline can be contacted on 0845 634 76 50
Community Advice & Listening Line (CALL) – Mental health helpline for people in Wales which offers emotional support and information for anyone concerned about their own mental health or a friend/family member’s mental health. Call 0800 13 27 37 or text ‘help’ to 81066
All information correct at time of publication – if you’d like a Mental Health service to be added, or amended, on this list email WalesOnline reporter Molly Dowrick: [email protected]
Huw’s comments come just weeks after Huw spoke of the negative reaction he received from colleagues at the BBC when he told them he was suffering from depression. As reported in the Mirror, Huw told his bosses he had depression and was soon told by a colleague that “the BBC doesn’t really want people to think there’s a nutter reading the 10 o’clock news”.
Huw said: “One of my colleagues used a phrase which I can use because I was at the receiving end of it and it’s not meant to cause offence in any way. One of them said to me, ‘Well, you know, the BBC doesn’t really want people to think there’s a nutter reading the 10 o’clock news’.
“And I said, ‘What do you mean, a nutter?’ I said, ‘What kind of phrase is that?’ But that’s actually quite a good insight into the way some people still perceive these issues.”
As well as speaking of the difficult response he received from the BBC when he spoke about his mental health, Huw has also previously spoken of the turbulent relationship he had with his father when he was growing up. Huw’s father, Welsh academic, historian and politician Hywel Teifi Edwards, spent a lot of time away from home when Huw was growing up and, when he was at home, tended to be “very sharp-tongued,” Huw recalled.
Among his political achievements, Mr Edwards stood for Plaid Cymru twice and served for 14 years on Dyfed County Council. “The fact that he wasn’t home that often was a challenge for mam,” Huw revealed in a documentary for S4C earlier this year. “He was always out lecturing all the time, doing evening classes and so on. We weren’t that close to be honest – not like me and mam, because dad wasn’t that present when I was growing up.
“He could be quite sharp. I laugh when people tell me that dad was full of humour and that he always had a smile on his face. I often think – what, do you live on the same planet as me? Yes, he could be very witty and he could laugh. He could be very sharp-tongued at times and if you were on the receiving end of that, it wasn’t very fun.”
The documentary for Welsh-language channel S4C, entitled “Huw Edwards yn 60” (Huw Edwards at 60) offered an insight into Huw’s upbringing, career and relationship with his father and saw Huw reflect on how his early years shaped who is as a person, and as a journalist. You can read our full more about the documentary in a previous article here.
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