The decision by Iris Robinson to stand down from active political life on the grounds of her mental health is a courageous step that can only help, in the longer term, countless others suffering from similar problems of depression.
In the political arena, I have often disagreed fundamentally with the views of Iris Robinson.
However on a personal basis I have seen first hand how committed she has been in fighting for a better and fairer health system for all of our society.
Much of this work is done far from the glare of publicity. It has never been restricted on the basis of political or cultural affiliation.
The battle that Iris Robinson has had to fight each day with her own illness has equipped her with a special insight into the needs of those marginalised by being regarded as outside the structure of so-called normal society.
Problems associated with mental well-being are one of the last great taboo subjects that we as a society have to address in a rational and open manner.
There is a collective fear factor for many in our community.
Instead of talking openly and honestly about the impact of those problems the prevailing attitude, unfortunately, is to try and hide away from the reality of the pain and suffering that mental health problems generate.
The fact that a woman and mother from such a high-profile background as Mrs. Robinson has had the courage to openly admit that it was time to make changes to her life must give encouragement to countless others.
For that she deserves special praise.
DR ALASDAIR McDONNELL, MP, MLA