Ill health forces councillor to take a break
By Somerset Standard | Thursday, December 12, 2013, 05:00
FROME councillor Sam Phripp is to take leave of absence from Somerset County Council until February because he is suffering from what he describes as "reasonably severe depression".
Councillor Sam Phripp is taking a break due to ill health
The 22-year-old serves on both Mendip District Council representing Frome Berkley Down ward and Somerset County Council.
He is standing as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in North East Somerset in the next General Election in 2015.
At the age of 19, Mr Phripp made local history in 2010 when he became the youngest councillor to be elected on to the district council.
He said: "I have not made this decision lightly, as I take my responsibilities as a councillor very seriously. I have, for around six months now, been dealing with reasonably severe depression and have been seeking medical assistance.
"Whilst I have been advised by a number of people that it might be a mistake to be completely honest about the nature of my illness, I think it's really important that I'm honest with the people that voted for me only a short time ago."
He said there remained a stigma around mental health issues which is something that needs to be fought against.
Mr Phripp said: "I am taking a leave of absence due to depression just as much as I would if I was unwell in any other way. I am receiving medical support and I'd recommend that anybody who finds themselves in the same situation do the same.
"You can feel incredibly alone when suffering with any kind of mental health problem, the first step has to be talking to somebody about how you feel and then making sure you get the support you need."
He is hoping to return at the beginning of February. Somerset county councillor Alvin Horsfall, who represents Keyford ward, will cover Mr Phripp's casework until then.
Mr Phripp added: "It has not been an easy to decision to make. I am incredibly proud to represent the area I grew up in, and represent people that I truly care about.
"I hope that local people will support my decision to take time to focus on my health."