Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness and Suicide Extremely Damaging.

Stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide is extremely damaging and must be urgently addressed – Neville

Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Chairman and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville TD, speaking on World Suicide Prevention Day, has said that stigma is one of the key issues facing people when seeking assistance with mental and emotional ill health or suicide ideation.

“The stigma regarding mental health and suicide is often subtle, but extremely damaging and is deeply ingrained in Irish society. While there have been limited improvements in recent years, there is an urgent need to inform and educate society to understand issues around mental ill health and suicide.

“Research completed by St. Patrick’s University Hospital, Dublin has shown that:

· 20% of those surveyed believe people with mental health problems are below average intelligence
· 40% consider seeking help for a mental health problem to be a sign of personal failure
· 66% expressed reluctance to hire a person with a history of mental illness, believing them to be unreliable
· 30% say they would not be willing to accept someone with a mental health problem as a close friend

“A survey by Amnesty International found that 94% of those who had experienced mental ill health said they had experienced some unfair treatment and 70% concealed mental health problems.

“Stigma is extremely hurtful, causes prejudice, excludes and marginalises people, and, above all, it stops people giving help and being supportive. It also stops families and those suffering from seeking help.

“Authorities and NGOs face a real challenge in raising awareness about all of the facts surrounding mental ill health and suicide. A deeper understanding of the real issues surrounding it will reduce the stigma and increase awareness of those seeking help.

“Since the beginning of this Government’s term, funding for suicide prevention had doubled to €8 million. However further measures are needed across the entire community to improve all areas of services as one-in-four people will at some stage of their life suffer from a mental health illness.”

ENDS