New poll shows poor mental health literacy among Irish audiences

A Red C poll commissioned by See Change ahead of its 6th Green Ribbon campaign to end mental health stigma has shown that 1 in 5 people link derogatory language with mental health difficulties.

Top findings showed that almost all respondents associated mental health difficulties with recognised terms such as ‘Depression’ or ‘Anxiety’, but there is a significant drop off when it comes to less common mental health difficulties such as ‘Bipolar Disorder’ and ‘Personality Disorders’.

Half a million Green Ribbons have already been distributed across Ireland to encourage conversation about mental health in order to end mental health stigma as part of the campaign which launches this Thursday, 3rd May.

Speaking about the findings, Director of See Change John Saunders said, “Although some derogatory words may seem trivial and innocent, they are the building blocks of stigma that may lead someone to conceal a mental health difficulty. One of the most important ways in which we can reduce stigma is to change how we talk about mental health.”

He continues, “We’re encouraging people to really think about the language they are using and the effects it may have on someone experiencing a mental health difficulty. Stigma often prevents people seeking help and speaking out. Demand for Green Ribbons has exceeded half a million before the campaign’s launch. It’s clear that people want to talk about mental health, but they are unsure of how to start the conversation”.

He concludes, “The ask is simple – wear the Green Ribbon to show you are open to conversation about mental health help end the stigma”.

The Green Ribbon campaign is being launched on Thursday 3rd May at 11am in the Mansion House in Dublin by Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly. Speakers include internationally renowned expert on mental health and stigma, Sir Graham Thornicroft, mental health advocate and sports broadcaster, Alan Quinlan, and See Change ambassador, blogger and TV panellist Jen Ronan. The campaign is being organised by See Change, The National Stigma Reduction Partnership for Mental Health.


Results from the poll show

Over 4 in 5 adults link the term ‘Depression’ with mental health difficulties, followed by 3 in 5 for ‘Anxiety’. These were the most strongly recognised terms related to mental health.

‘Bipolar Disorder’, ‘Schizophrenia’, ‘Personality Disorders’, and ‘Eating Disorders’ were also linked with mental health difficulties, but less so, indicating there is a need to improve mental health literacy among the general public. Just over half of adults linked ‘Bipolar Disorder’ with mental health difficulties. Less than half of adults linked ‘Schizophrenia’ with mental health difficulties. Just over 2 in 5 adults linked ‘Personality Disorders’ with mental health difficulties. Less than 1 in 3 adults linked ‘Eating Disorders’ with mental health difficulties making it the least recognised term.

The most common derogatory term linked with mental health difficulties was the word ‘Psycho’, closely followed by the word ‘Schizo’ with over 1 in 10 of all adults surveyed choosing these words.

Interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,018 adults aged 18+.

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