Press Release: See Change welcomes commitment from to

See Change strongly welcomes commitment from government elect to reduce stigma associated with mental health problems

Dublin, 7 March 2011: See Change – Ireland’s national programme to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems – has strongly welcomed the commitment in the programme for government 2011 to ‘reduce the stigma of mental illness’.

Kahlil Thompson-Coyle, See Change Campaign Manager, described the commitment from Fine Gael and Labour to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems as an ‘important and necessary declaration of intent from the next government.’

“Irish and international research consistently reports that the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems is often as difficult to manage as the experience of being unwell. Mental health stigma has an enormous social and economic impact, and acts as a barrier to people coming forward to seek help,” said Ms. Thompson-Coyle.

Research from See Change (public attitudes towards mental illness, 2010) found that although one in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives, nearly 50 per cent of those surveyed wouldn’t want others to know if they had a mental illness while one in four young men would delay seeking help for fear of someone finding out.

John Saunders, Director of See Change and Shine said, “We have been working with our 41 partner organisations to place the reduction of stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems firmly on the public and political agenda.”

“The commitment in the programme from government is a hugely positive step in the right direction and we look forward to working with the incoming government to further develop national and community based initiatives to positively change our attitudes to mental illness,” said Mr. Saunders.

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.

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