Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman delivering a speech. PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM WOLF
Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman has received a lot of attention after voluntarily checking himself into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 16.
Having been over two months since his admittance, the media has taken this instance as an opportunity to highlight the strong stigma around mental illness in the workplace, especially in politics.
In the past, many politicians would avoid either accepting treatment or letting the public find out about their illness and treatment in fear of being downgraded for it. Some view people with mental illness as incapable of successfully fulfilling the duties of their jobs, something that is changing as digital media progresses.
From the beginning, John Fetterman was open about his decision to admit himself for clinical depression, even after receiving negative comments about the stroke he had just days before his nomination for the Senate. Many conclude that the depression he is experiencing is a result of the stroke.
Due to the amount of time Fetterman has been away from work and in the hospital, people are beginning to assume he has passed. However, Gisele Fetterman, the senator’s wife, recently posted a photo of the family out at dinner together on Twitter.
“We can do hard things when we do them together,” Gisele tweets with a heart emoji. “So proud of João, the kids, and everyone who’s shared their own struggles with us in the past few weeks. It gets better.”
Despite this post, many continue to believe in the former and assume these are old pictures from before he checked into the hospital. In addition to that, a fake CNN obituary for Fetterman surfaced on Feb. 23, further circulating the rumor. The fabricated screenshot of the article even contains the name “Fetterneck” in the URL, a nickname those who oppose Fetterman like to use.
Many believe this screenshot of the CNN article to be real and was simply taken down before too much of the public would see it, but a spokesperson for CNN confirmed that the article was fake and never published by the news source.
While many believe mental illness has no place in the government, the stigma around it is slowly fading away and more and more politicians are finding contentment in the change that is being made.
Regardless of this minor setback and the weeks of treatment to come, Fetterman’s associates have expressed that the Democratic Senator has no intention of giving up his seat in the Senate.