Stigma remains for mental health: 1 in 5 link stigmatising language with mental health difficulties
Today, Thursday, 3rd May 2018, See Change officially launched its 6th annual Green Ribbon campaign to End Mental Health Stigma. The campaign was launched by Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly and mental health advocate and sports broadcaster Alan Quinlan.
Speakers included internationally renowned expert on mental health and stigma, Sir Graham Thornicroft and blogger and TV panellist Jen Ronan. The campaign is being organised by See Change, The National Stigma Reduction Partnership for Mental Health.
Speaking about the importance of reducing stigma keynote speaker, Sir Graham Thornicroft said, “Stigma has a toxic effect by preventing people seeking support. People put off seeing health professions, or don’t seek help at all, which in turn delays their recovery.”
He continues, “Awareness campaigns aimed at reducing stigma among the general public have a positive effect on behaviours and attitudes and can help alleviate self-stigma also. ”
Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly said, “The beauty of this campaign lies in its simplicity and accessibility. For a long time in Ireland mental health was cloaked in colloquialisms and generally avoided. What this campaign recognises is that as a basic first step we need to make it okay to acknowledge and discuss mental health problems. Language is powerful and how we speak about things shapes and reinforces our view of them. If we cannot share our problems and learn from each other it will lead to misinformation, fear and shame, with negative emotions and adjectives acting as barriers to care.”
Speaking about his personal experiences of mental health difficulties, sports broadcaster and former rugby player Alan Quinlan, said “For me, my mental health, I didn’t have an understanding of it, what it meant or how to deal with it. Particularly when you play sport and a physical game like rugby, there is a macho type image there and there’s a macho type scenario that’s associated with contact sport: GAA, soccer, all those sports and particularly for young boys. We feel we have to live up to that macho, athletic, strong, resilient type sports personality and you can create an imbalance in your emotional wellbeing. And that’s something that perhaps happened to me.”
See Change ambassador, Blogger and TV panellist Jen Ronan said, “I’m delighted once again to be involved in the Green Ribbon Campaign as a See Change mental health ambassador. I’ve watched the movement go from strength to strength and see it help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues in Ireland more and more each year. So many aspects of mental health are now part of the public discourse, and more people than ever are speaking out and finding extraordinary courage within themselves to share their own experiences and stories either in mainstream media or even just on their own social media platforms for friends to see”.
John Meehan, Head of the HSE’s National Office of Suicide Prevention, who fund the Green Ribbon campaign, added, “Understanding, challenging and reducing the stigma associated with so many aspects of mental health, is a crucial strand of work associated with Connecting for Life, Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide 2015-2020.
He continued, “The HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention is delighted to support this year’s Green Ribbon Campaign and many other strategic stigma reduction activities, delivered by See Change and others working in the area.”