“Exercise turned my life around” TV Presenter Opens Up About Mental Health Issues

William Kellogg
June 26, 2019

TV presenter, Gail Porter, smiles happily as she says she is delighted to be back in Scotland and insists she is having the best moments of her life.


The TV presenter is easily and instantly recognizable by her bald head.

After years of well-documented struggles with her mental health, relationships, and finances, she looks calmer and finally at ease with herself.

She puts this rejuvenation down to daily exercise – a combination of yoga, running, and cycling.

 The Women’s Tour of Scotland has now announced that the Scottish celebrity is going to be an ambassador for their inaugural race, which takes place between August 9 and 11.

While professional cyclists like Katie Archibald will represent the elite competitors, Miss Porter, 48, wants to appeal to regular cyclists to get on their bikes for this family-friendly event that is part of the Tour.

She said: “Being active has been a crucial part of my mental health. “Once I’m having a bad day, I go out. When one has mental health problems, we tend to remove ourselves from society, and it can get worse and worse. You disappear under the duvet.

“I’ve been there. There were times when I did not leave the house for a long period. Now, now and then, no matter what, even if it’s raining, I get out and cycle or walk around the block. It helps keep your head in check.”

A series of life-changing events, that included post-natal depression, grief, divorce, and then alopecia – contributed to Gail’s mental problems.

Before the death of her mother, Sandra in 2009, she said to Gail: “Not another thing. You’ve been through enough already.”

Gail was so bereaved after losing her mum to breast cancer, she shut out the memory, and her life was split into before and after Sandra died.

Talking about her breakdown, she said: “There was no one thing that happened. One day my brain just felt like something had gone a bit wrong. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

“I asked for help from an ex, and instead of helping, he called the police, and they took me away.”

 Gail spent three terrifying weeks in the hospital under the Mental Health Act in 2011. It was a traumatic experience she never wants ever again.

Miss Porter, a former presenter on TV shows, The Big Breakfast and BBC’S Top of the Pops, has written a book, which is currently with her publisher, about her battle with depression. And like fellow TV star Davina McCall, she is working on becoming a personal trainer.

She said: “I guess it will become an alternative career because, of course, the job I’m doing right now can’t last forever. It would be great to help people and improve their mental health with the introduction of exercise.” Her positivity is miles away from the struggles that infiltrated her 20s and 30s. Middle-aged and menopausal, she is small but courageous and works hard at remaining positive.

She said: “I’m at a stage now where I think something good always comes out of everything. I’ve lost my mum, but I had a good mum. I had mental health problems, but I’ve written a book about it.”

She is currently single and jokes about joining Tinder. She said: “I was asking my friend if I should join and she said, ‘Knowing your kind of luck, you’ll get killed.’ She’s probably right.

“By far the best thing in Gail’s life, she says, is her daughter Honey, 16, who is fully aware of her mum’s past.

William Kellogg

William Kellogg is a veteran writer who's covered the subject of the intersection of technology, health and mental wellness for nearly two decades.

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