Roman Kemp speaks out to erase men’s mental health stigma: ‘I’ve been on antidepressants since I was 15’

Ahead of his BBC Three documentary Our Silent Emergency

Roman Kemp promo for BBC's Our Silent Emergency documentary covering death of his friend and Capital FM producer Joe Lyons

by Carl Smith |
Updated on

Roman Kemp has spoken candidly of his mental health struggles in a bid to eradicate the stigma surrounding depression amongst men.

Following the tragic passing of his best friend and Capital FM producer Joe Lyons last August, Roman teamed up with BBC Three to create a documentary highlighting the importance of speaking up about mental health issues; opening up the conversation around his own experience on antidepressants in a bid to normalise the topic.

Asked how he's coping in lockdown ahead of the launch of BBC Three documentary Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency (available now on BBC iPlayer), Roman said, "It's pretty tough, man.

"It's tough speaking about the documentary. If I'm totally honest, I didn't want to make this. I didn't ever want a reason to make this film; and unfortunately I do."

"The reality of [the mental health crisis] is that it's shit, it's so bad.

"I've been suffering with my own mental health problems since I was 15. I went onto antidepressants at 15 and I still take them every day. I was very scared of talking about it."

Admitting that he feared to speak out himself as a famous figure who seemingly has it all, Roman explained that depression does not see privilege or wealth; but can affect anybody.

"My main reason for not wanting to be open about it was because I was worried people would say 'You're the son of a famous guy [Martin Kemp]; how can you be sad?'

Roman Kemp promo for BBC's Our Silent Emergency documentary covering death of his friend and Capital FM producer Joe Lyons

"That's completely understandable. But depression doesn't discriminate or wear a uniform. I understand why people would question it, and I'm sometimes guilty of looking on Instagram and thinking, 'Look at the life they lead,' too.

"But it's been a part of my life for a while. When I lost Joe last year, it got to a point where I can't know first-hand how bad this can get in someone's head without saying anything."

"The reason I went onto antidepressants was because of a chemical imbalance in my brain. I wasn't producing enough serotonin. What I've realised it that depression is still very much stigmatised; but every single person on this planet goes through a level of depression at some point in their life.

"It's normal. That's human life. Yet when I say to you 'have you ever been diagnosed with depression' and you say 'yes,' people automatically assume you're sat at home, crying. Not the life and soul of the party. There's a disconnect and misunderstanding."

Discussing how Joe's passing left him at his 'lowest', Roman said, "Last year I lost my brother, my best friend and the person who made me what I am in Joe. That moment, for me, is the lowest I've ever been. That's the lowest point in my life. Since then, I've been fortunate enough to speak to friendship groups who've also lost people close to them.

"What I can see, in so many cases, is that you can't see who's struggling. It's always those people you don't expect. What I want to put across is that I wish I'd had that chat [about mental health] with Joe.

"I wish I'd told him I loved him. I wish I'd said 'let's go for a beer and talk and see how each other are.' I wish I'd pushed that."

If you want to talk to someone about your mental health, call Samaritans on 116 123, or you can email

Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency is available now on BBC iPlayer and airs tonight (Tuesday 16th March) at 9pm on BBC One.

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