Appointment of Kathleen Lynch TD as Minister for Disability, Equality and Mental Health ‘an encouraging sign that government intends to follow through on its commitment to tackle stigma of mental health problems‘ – See Change
Dublin, 10 March 2011: See Change – a partnership of 41 organisations working to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland – today welcomed the appointment of Kathleen Lynch TD as Minister for Disability, Equality and Mental Health. John Saunders, Director of See Change said that the appointment “is an encouraging sign that the new government intends to follow through on its commitment to reform mental health services and tackle the stigma that surrounds mental health problems.”
“As Labour Party spokesperson for equality and disability issues in the last Dail, Kathleen Lynch was a strong and empathetic advocate for people experiencing mental health problems. I want to extend my good wishes on her appointment as Minister for Disability, Equality and Mental Health and I look forward to working with her on a shared commitment to reduce the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental health problems in Ireland,” said Mr. Saunders
Reacting to the inclusion of the equality brief in the re-aligned department, Mr Saunders said, “the treatment of people experiencing mental health problems is not just a services issue and certainly not just a resources issue; it is fundamentally concerned with dignity and human rights. The inclusion of equality in the newly formed department is a very positive step towards mainstreaming equality approaches in how the state, the health service and the Irish people treat and behave towards people experiencing mental health problems.”
The appointment of Kathleen Lynch TD as Minister for Disability, Equality and Mental Health follows on from a declaration in the Programme for Government to ‘reduce the stigma’ associated with mental health problems. Mr. Saunders said that he “looks forward to briefing the new Minister on the work that See Change and its partner organisations are carrying out in an effort to reduce stigma and change minds about mental health problems”.
See Change is working with people, organisations and communities all over Ireland to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems through public events, arts and cultural initiatives, personal stories, testimonies, and new approaches to education. A series of nationwide public meetings and events has attracted over 3000 people and See Change will shortly launch a major online initiative – ‘make a ripple’ – to encourage more open and honest attitudes around mental health problems.