fb-pixel Skip to main content

In face of false claims of panic attacks, Wu steadfastly leads

Mayor Michelle Wu testifies before the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on March 22 about her opposition to a possible state takeover of Boston Public Schools.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Some critics of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu are employing centuries-old prejudices about mental illness in their attacks on her leadership (“Anatomy of a lie: unraveling false attacks aimed at undermining Wu,” Page A1, March 27), hoping that others hold the same implicit and explicit biases. They seek to ascribe shame, weakness, and instability to the mayor and to her ability to lead.

The Globe’s analysis by reporter Emma Platoff highlights the dangers of weaponizing an alleged health condition to undermine a leader’s credibility and inflict political damage. Those who use and exacerbate stigma do so at the expense of all of us and our families, friends, and neighbors who are at risk for, or living with, mental health conditions.


In a 2020 op-ed, Wu, then a city councilor, expressed personal courage in sharing her family’s story about living with, caring about, and supporting people struggling with their mental health. With this, she took affirmative steps to eradicate stigma and help other families in need.

In Platoff’s story, when the mayor was asked whether it was true that she was rushed by ambulance to a hospital for treatment for a panic attack, Wu replied that it was not true but added that if she had a panic attack, she would not hide it and she would seek help.

These honest, thoughtful efforts to address mental health challenges are the mark of a strong and compassionate leader. The only shame is on those who leverage and perpetuate prejudice to score political points.

Barry B. White

Board chair

Danna E. Mauch

President and CEO

Massachusetts Association for Mental Health


White served as ambassador to Norway from 2009 to 2013.