Mental Health Foundation slams National MPs for insensitive language

Mental health is at the centre of the National Party leak saga.

The leaker of Simon Bridges' expenses wanted the inquiry called off because they had mental health issues.

Jami-Lee Ross says that wasn't him, but admits he had a mental breakdown.

"It's true, I suffered a medical event, I had a mental breakdown," he told media on Tuesday.

"It was triggered by the mounting pressure and accusations behind party walls that played out for months in a public row." 

Two days after Mr Bridges' expenses were leaked on August 13, Speaker Trevor Mallard agreed to a QC-led inquiry.

Just 24 hours later there was a plea via text from the leaker to abandon the inquiry based on mental health grounds.

"It was ultimately a very dark, concerning text message," Mr Bridges said.

He took a day to seek advice from mental health experts and police. Two days later Police told him they had identified and contacted the texter who was receiving support.

The Speaker then cancelled his inquiry and National launched its own.

A month later, Mr Ross took personal medical leave for an issue Mr Bridges repeatedly referred to as "embarrassing".

The Mental Health Foundation was shocked by his description, for which he later apologised.

"To say that a mental health issue is embarrassing is, quite frankly, unacceptable," said CEO Shaun Robinson.

But Mr Bridges wasn't alone in his questionable choice of words. Former party president Michelle Boag described Mr Ross as "irrational", and others in the party were quick to insult their colleague recovering from a breakdown.

"We've got an MP that's going rogue," said Louise Upston.

Mark Mitchell called him "disloyal" while Judith Collins went a step further and said he was "delusional".

The war of poorly chosen words has mental health experts calling out the party's politicians. 

"I don't think it's acceptable to use shaming words around mental distress and mental health issues," said Mr Robinson. "We're looking to our political leaders to set an example."

"I was deeply hurt," Mr Ross said of Mr Bridges' initial description. "No one should have their boss tell the nation that their mental health and their medical needs are embarrassing."

The Mental Health Foundation says politicians talk a big game when it comes to mental health, but they could play it a lot better.