Dublin, 13 April 2011: Make a Ripple, a new campaign from See Change (the national stigma reduction partnership) aims to get Ireland talking about mental health problems. Backed by a number of well known broadcasters, writers and sports-people, the campaign is asking members of the public to share their experiences of mental health problems and speak out against the stigma and discrimination that causes so many to suffer in silence.
Alastair Campbell, former Director of Communications and Strategy for Tony Blair, has signed up as a See Change ambassador and is encouraging others to speak out about their experiences.
“When I became Tony Blair’s press secretary, I knew that the ‘skeletons’ would probably come out, so I never hid the fact I’d had a nervous breakdown. I’d always been very open about it, calling it my ‘mad period’. There’s no point pretending I wasn’t mad, because I was, probably for some time up to my breakdown, and then it took quite a while to recover. I think people are disarmed when you’re up front about it. I’ve never had anybody say a bad thing about my breakdown,” said Mr. Campbell.
One of the key messages of the See Change campaign is that people can and do recover from mental health problems but stigma can be one of the biggest barriers to recovery. Alastair Campbell said,
“I still get depression from time to time, sometimes mild, sometimes not so mild. It is never nice, but I have learned to accept it as part of who and what I am. And I have developed the insight, every time it comes, that it will eventually go.”
The (See Change) Make a Ripple campaign will be launched on 4th May and invites people to tell their story, share their experiences and make a ripple to end the stigma of mental health problems. Claire Byrne, presenter of the Daily Show and the Late Debate, has backed the message that Ireland needs to talk about mental health problems. Claire got involved with See Change after seeing someone close to her go through a difficult time.
“How wonderful it would be if we here in Ireland could get to a place where mental well-being was rated as part of general health, rather than a taboo and something to be wary or even frightened of. Stress, depression, feeling down: these are all normal emotions. They are impactful enough not to be left hidden and the negative power they hold over us can often be dispelled by simply verbalising that we just don’t feel well. Let’s start talking about it,” said Ms. Byrne.
Speaking in advance of the campaign launch, John Saunders Director of See Change said that Irish people need to ‘learn to accept that mental health problems affect all of us in one way or another; it is part and parcel of being human.’
“At a time when suicide is on the increase, silence is a dangerous solution to our unease with talking about mental health problems. Our own research found that nearly 30% of young people would delay seeking help for fear of some of someone finding out about a mental health problem. We need to send a message loud and clear that mental health problems affect all of us in some way, directly or indirectly, it’s nothing to be ashamed. Problems are always worth talking about,” said Mr. Saunders
Mr. Saunders continued:
“One in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some stage, that’s enough people to fill Croke Park eight times over. We’re asking anyone who has been affected in any way by a mental health problem to log on to www.seechange.ie, speak out and help us end the stigma of mental health problems for good.”
For more information contact:
01 860 1620 / 0867954391
To find out more about Make a Ripple visit our campaign site and get involved