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'Continued effort needed' to tackle stigma towards mental health issues

A new ESRI report also recommends integrated services for ‘physical and mental disabilities’.

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A NEW REPORT recommends an integration of services for those with physical disabilities and mental health disabilities.

It also highlights a strong connection between the level of social support and the general well-being of people with mental health disabilities.

A new paper published by the ESRI this afternoon analysed the results of Central Statistics Office survey on people with ‘emotional, physiological and mental health (EPMH) disabilities’.

This found that 87% of those with an EPMH issues also had one other type of disability, most commonly (52%) mobility issues.

One of the report’s ‘policy implications’ is that services need to take into account both a person’s physical health needs and EPMH  needs.

“Two issues which emerged throughout the study were the strong overlap between EPMH disability and the importance of attitudes of other people,” report author Dorothy Watson said.

Both individual factors, such as general health and presence of other types of disability, and environmental factors, including the attitudes of other people, have a significant impact on the well-being and participation of people with EPMH disability.

The research found that between 45% and 58% of people reported that public and private service providers, employers, and strangers were supportive, compared with 80% finding interaction with friend and families supportive.

This level of support was crucial in helping people overcome difficulties in everyday life and being able to participate in more activities.

The ESRI report is also recommending increased work supports for those with EPMH disabilities.

Just 18% of those surveyed were in employment, and 69% had ever worked. Some were uninterested in ever entering employment due to the ‘attitudes of other people’, while flexible or shorter working hours were seen as an incentive by others.

The three key policy implications were:

  • The overlap between EPMH disability and other types of disability highlights the need for an integrated approach to service delivery that takes account of the physical health needs of people with EPMH disability and takes account of the mental health needs of people with a physical disability.
  • Since many people with EPMH disability first experience the disability during their working years, retention in employment is important to their social inclusion. Services to both the employer and the person with a disability are needed to retain people with EPMH disability in employment.
  • Addressing stigma on the part of the general population – including employers and those providing public and private services – needs to remain on the agenda of mental health and disability policy. This issue needs to be addressed in a number of ways: through the education system; by means of general educational campaigns targeting adults; through training for those who deal with the public; through implementation of equality policies in organisations and through equality legislation to protect people with a disability from discrimination.

Read: More than 3,000 young people are waiting for mental health referrals >

More: Reports that mental health service plans are 30 years old are “not new” >

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