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Most of us see Irish society as hostile to mental health problems

65% say mental health treatment is seen as a sign of failure.

Image: Head in hands via Shutterstock

SOME 65% OF us believe that being treated for a mental health problem is seen as a sign of failure in Irish society.

That’s the discouraging finding of a survey published by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services today, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

Worryingly, more than half of those surveyed (53%) said they have worked with someone with a mental health difficulty, and yet one in five said they wouldn’t trust someone who had previously had a mental health problem.

Paul Gilligan, CEO of St Patricks, said the results of the survey were “very disappointing”, and indicated that despite recent progress in Ireland, stigma around mental health and depression still persists.

People that proactively seek and receive help are taking a courageous step on the road to recovery.
Irish society should encourage and support this.
While there are many mental health public awareness campaigns being run throughout Ireland, there is a need to tackle these misunderstandings and stigmatising attitudes, and this is best achieved through a concerted schools-based education campaign.

Some of the other findings of survey, conducted online by 506 adults aged 18-70:

  • More women than men (28 vs 20%) report having been treated for a mental health issue
  • More from the lowest income group in Ireland (household income under €20,000) report seeking mental health treatment (37%), as opposed to 22% from all other income groups.
  • 58% say Irish people would not treat someone with a mental health problem the same as anyone else
  • 54% say Irish people would willingly accept as a close friend someone with a mental health problem, and yet -
  • 63% say they themselves have a close friend who has been treated for a mental health difficulty.
  • 44% said a family member had previously been treated for a mental health difficulty
  • 15% said they would not or might not want to live next door to someone with previous mental health problems
  • 19% said they would or might be opposed to people with a previous mental health issue being allowed to take public office
  • 32% said they would not or might not marry someone with previous mental health problems, even if they seemed to have fully recovered
  • Exactly half said they would not or might not trust someone with previous mental health problems to be a babysitter

Read: Save grieving families from ‘trial-like’ suicide inquests: Console>

Three-quarters of suicides take place in low-income regions>

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Dan MacGuill

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