Senator Fetterman Thought Disclosing Mental Health Challenges Would ‘Terminate’ His Political Career

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman, a Democrat, has openly shared his apprehension about the potential jeopardy to his political trajectory when he underwent treatment for depression at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. During a segment on NBC’s Meet the Press, Fetterman articulated his worries regarding how the public might perceive his mental health challenges.

“Well, when – when it got released where I was and where it was going, it was — it was a big story,” Fetterman said. “And so, I had assumed that that would be the end of my career. And I don’t know what that — what kind of impact that would have on my family or anything, so I — I really didn’t know what would happen at that point.”

Kristen Welker from NBC asked Fetterman about his concerns regarding openly addressing his mental health and depression, especially in February when it was revealed that he had sought treatment at Walter Reed. Fetterman responded by emphasizing the potential positive effects of his transparency.

“And it would be my goal to… if somebody could hear this kind of a message and this conversation that we’re having might make a different choice,” Fetterman told Welker. “And that’s why — I’m sure I never thought at any point in my life that it would be a career boon to talk about these kinds of topics.”

Fetterman provided additional details about the events preceding his choice to seek assistance. He described engaging in “dark conversations” with himself regarding self-harm and highlighted December 2022 as an especially difficult period when getting out of bed proved to be a significant struggle.

“People hear all their lives about ‘I can’t get out of bed,’ and you really can’t understand what that really means. You can’t get out of bed until it happens to you. And it did,” he explained. His family, particularly his children and wife, were significantly affected by his condition.

Being a part of the bipartisan Senate Mental Health Caucus, Fetterman is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health concerns and diminishing the stigma attached to seeking assistance for depression and mental well-being. He expressed his initial doubts about treatment efficacy, underscoring his individual path toward recovery.

“And I would say to the biggest skeptic in the world: ‘I was that person. Oh, it’s not going to work. It’s not going to change. This is how I’ve always been,’” he said. “But I was wrong. And it does work. And if it can work for me — because I was absolutely convinced that there is no coming back — then that means, I think, it would be applicable to 99% of people out there that could hear this.”

Almost a year following his time at Walter Reed, Fetterman continues to speak out about mental health, striving to support those confronting comparable difficulties.

“It’s a risk that I wanted to take because I wanted to help people and know that I don’t want them to suffer the way — or put any kinds of despair that I’ve been in. And if that conversation helps, then that’s — I’m going to continue to do that,” he concluded.