#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 8 December 2021

Tom Lenihan: Dad broke down in tears when I told him I was depressed

The former finance minister’s son has said that, as student union president at Trinity College, he will be encouraging students to talk about their problems and seek help.

The late Brian Lenihan in 2011 with his son Tom.
The late Brian Lenihan in 2011 with his son Tom.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE SON OF the late former finance minister Brian Lenihan has said he will be placing a huge emphasis on mental health during his year as student union president at Trinity College.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on 2FM, Tom Lenihan opened up about his own struggles with depression that led to a suicide attempt when he was 18.

“I didn’t really avail of any support services so I suppose a lot of my work in the union now is just encouraging people to talk about it and breaking down the stigma around mental health,” he said.

Lenihan said he had trouble with his self-esteem from a young age and felt the “pressure” of his father’s job.

The hardest thing for me in my life, I think, was to tell my dad I had depression. I didn’t know how he would react and I suppose I didn’t want to break his heart, you know. When he was in office he said that the biggest crisis he felt was me, because he just didn’t have the answers for it.

The 22-year-old said the former finance minister “broke down in tears” when he was told of his son’s problems.

Lenihan also spoke of a recent “bad patch” he had when he went off his medication, began drinking heavily and was caught cheating in an exam.

“It was the wake-up call I needed to take better care of myself,” he said. As student union president at the college over the next year he said he would be encouraging students to mind their own mental health and seek help.

As for a future in politics, the student has no plans to follow in his father’s foot-steps and certainly no intention of joining Fianna Fáil, which he described as a “very conservative” party.

“I wouldn’t have aspirations towards national politics,” he said. “I think politics is very divisive and with the union it’s much more of a unison of students and you can provide better services, you’ve better contact and you can put your head above the parapet a bit more and say what you really feel without reproachment.”

Read: Priory Hall resident writes to Taoiseach after partner takes his own life>

Read: How exercise can help treat depression and anxiety>

Read next: