ITV news anchor Tom Bradby has hit out at the “poor” state of mental health provision in the UK after his battle with insomnia left him feeling like a “zombie” at work.
Bradby recalled lying on the floor of the ITV newsroom having what he thought was a heart attack as a result of his struggles with sleep, which forced him to take five months off work last year.
The journalist was speaking at a panel event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival yesterday to discuss insomnia and his own personal experiences.
He said his insomnia developed very quickly and left him relying on sleeping tablets and anti-depressants.
“I was trying to do the News At Ten – when you don’t really know what’s happening and you’ve never had a mental health crisis before, you have no idea what one really is and you never imagined it would happen to you,” he said.
“And here I am in my corner office of the ITV newsroom on the floor, with my feet in the air, having what I think is a heart attack.
“I feel so weak I can hardly stand up.
“I can tell my body is pumping with adrenaline and weirdly what I did was the right thing which was to run up and down the stairs to drain it off and then lie down to calm myself down.
“I was in a sorry state.”
Bradby said the death of his parents was the trigger for a “deep crisis” and once he had come to terms with that he started to sleep better.
“What troubles me about it is that takes a lot of time and skill and effort on the part of a practitioner to lead you to expose the things that are not actually relevant,” Bradby said.
“I just wish, and one day I believe we will, get to the stage as a country where mental health conditions are routinely treated with the same seriousness as cancer.”
Bradby described mental health provision in the UK as “so poor” and said he was fortunate that after “ending up in a very severe crisis” he was able to afford private treatment.
“This is one of the things I would like to be more part of the national conversation,” he said.
“I am obviously in a highly-paid job and if I get ill I can afford to go and see the best psychiatrist in the country, which I duly did and I saw him every other week.
“That felt like the equivalent of being treated for cancer and it’s an extremely robust process and it’s like your worried mind doing battle with a supercomputer every week and every week losing.
“It slowly grinds you down and what keeps you awake is a lifetime of a certain pattern of thinking about things, troubling you in the middle of the night.
“If you go to bed and can’t sleep, don’t fight it, and try and rest as much as you possibly can because you will feel better in the morning if you just rested for eight hours.”