Let’s talk about dignity in mental health this mental health week

Fine Gael Party Chairman, TD for Limerick and co-founder of the Irish Suicidology Association, Dan Neville, has said that this Mental Health week should be a time to show that mental health is just as important as physical health.

“World Mental Health Week is underway until 10th October, with Saturday being World Mental Health Day. The theme for this year is dignity in mental health.

“Mental health is as important physical health and is essential for Ireland’s economic and social recovery. Everyone in Ireland is likely to be affected by mental health difficulties at some point in their lives either personally or through family, friends and colleagues. It is an issue we cannot ignore.

“We must have an Ireland where people with mental health difficulties can recover and live a full life in their communities. Achieving this requires the engagement of every section of Irish society.

“People living with mental health difficulties need modern multi-disciplinary mental health services in local communities. Since 2012, this Government has invested €125 million in mental health services because we recognise that availability of early intervention such as counselling, primary care and 24/7 access to crises support are vital. I recognise that more resources are still needed in this area.

“One of the issues which inhibit recovery is the stigma which is still attached to mental illness. Stigma is deeply hurtful and isolating. Stigma manifests itself where people express negative opinions towards those with mental health problems, damaging their sense of dignity.

“Amnesty International research found that more than 70% of those who suffered from mental health problems concealed them, 60% stopped working, more than half stopped themselves from having a close relationship and 40% stopped engaging in education. People with mental health issues feel stigmatised and their dignity is damaged to such an extent that they withdraw from society. That is not right.

“We must challenge inaccurate representations in the media by creating an understanding of the real facts about mental health problems. In recent times there has been a better understanding of mental ill-health as more people have spoken of their own experiences. Physical illness is an accepted part of living and mental illness should be viewed in the same way. Sadly investment in our mental health services has been neglected over decades and even with recent improvements we are still only allocating about 6% of the health budget towards services for those with mental ill-health.

“Mental health week is a time to discuss all of these issues, to bring mental ill health out into the open and to assure those who suffer that they can ask for help, without fear of loss of dignity or being stigmatised.