The stigma of mental health problems can take many forms and transcends all areas. In this guest blog area, we’ll be inviting a wide range of voices to set out their take on the many issues that relate to stigma and leave people feeling isolated or afraid to reach out for support. We want to create an area where the fine detail of challenging stigma can be hashed out and debated.
Feel free to post your reactions or comments at end of this post.
Got an idea for an issue that should be teased out? Email the team
First up: Orla Barry, Director of Mental Health Reform writes how inadequate mental health services reinforce the stigma of mental health problems.
I want to first of all thank See Change for the opportunity to be the first guest blogger on this website. Mental Health Reform is a proud See Change partner. See Change recognises that stigma is a real barrier to recovery and must be tackled to allow people to seek the help they need. Mental Health Reform work to ensure that the services that are available fit people’s needs.
Mental Health Reform’s goal is an Ireland where people can recover their good health and live their life to the fullest. We are putting pressure on Government to implement their own, excellent policy document within the timeframe that was originally set out. This policy A Vision for Change is the blue print for a modern, recovery focused community based mental health service. Currently our services are 20 to 30 years behind international good practice – it cannot continue.
Stigma remains a major obstacle to progress in this field. Closure of the old psychiatric institutions, while much too slow, and their replacement with community based services and the provision of high quality acute in patient units is welcome and will help to reduce stigma. But, it must happen faster.
While the Government’s commitment to improve access to modern community based multi-disciplinary mental health services must be welcomed, it is not yet the political priority it needs to be. The only way that can be achieved is if enough pressure is put on politicians to make mental health a priority. We need to fight for mental health in the upcoming budget, and thereafter, to ensure that stigma is reduced and services are improved.
Mental Health Reform has recently launched a petition on www.mentalhealthreform.ie to do just that. We hope that we can collect 10,000 signatures to protect mental health services from being cut yet again in the upcoming budget. Mental health services have already suffered disproportionally and if more staff are lost the system will be unsustainable.
We must show how widespread support for mental health is; that it is not an issue on the fringes of society. One in four people will be affected by a mental health difficulty during their lives – it can affect everyone and it deserves our politicians’ undivided attention. It is our duty to remind them of this.
Every time somebody signs our petition, an email is sent to the Minister for Health, the Minister for Finance, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Mental Health so that they know that this is not an issue that goes unnoticed. I urge everyone with an interest in stigma reduction to sign this petition and to do their bit to reduce stigma and improve services.