Fetterman: Seeking mental health treatment could have been “end of my career”

Sen. John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said a year after he received treatment for depression that at the time, he thought his career could be over.

“When I decided to check myself in I thought this could be the end of my career,” Fetterman said Wednesday on “CBS Mornings.” The interview was conducted with the aid of closed-captioning software and a stenographer due to lingering auditory processing issues Fetterman suffers from since having a stroke in May 2022.

A year after he left treatment for clinical depression at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fetterman said he’s “grateful” to be in a “much different situation.” He noted that at the time that he checked himself in, he didn’t imagine he’d be able to be where he is now, discussing mental health and its importance.

“To be able to have that conversation, whether or not it’s a political winner, but it’s an important conversation that I think we really have to have in this nation,” Fetterman said. 

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Sen. John Fetterman on “CBS Mornings,” April 3, 2024. CBS News

Fetterman checked himself in for treatment in February 2023. At the time, his chief of staff said Fetterman had experienced depression “off and on throughout his life,” which had become severe in recent weeks. The now 54-year-old had been elected to the Senate months earlier, and had suffered a stroke during the run up to the highly competitive election. He returned to the Senate in April of last year, earning praise from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for seeking the help he needed and encouraging others to do the same.

When asked what advice he’d give to others in a similar circumstance, Fetterman said “get help — it works.”

The Pennsylvania Democrat noted that he had skeptical before he sought treatment, saying that he thought nothing would help.

“But it did. And it worked,” he said. 

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Sen. John Fetterman on “CBS Mornings,” April 3, 2024. CBS News

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email info@nami.org.

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