Putting mental health stigma on the political agenda

dail

As well as working in the community, with our partners, and through awareness campaigns, See Change recognises the critical importance of placing mental health stigma on the radar of politicians and decision makers. We were delighted the stigma reduction was included as a priority in both the Fine Gael election manifesto, and in the programme for government, negotiated by Fine Gael and Labour.

We’re working – in cooperation with our partner organisations – to ensure that the commitment to tackle stigma and discrimination is followed through and implemented by the government. It’s early days, but the signs so far have been positive. We’ve met with the new Minister for Disability, Equality and Mental Health and received a very positive reception in terms of the need to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland.

We watched with interest a very interesting and informed debate on suicide prevention in the Dail yesterday (08/04/11) and we were delighted to hear the many positive references to the work that See Change is doing around the country.

See Change is the national stigma reduction campaign launched by my predecessor, former Deputy John Moloney, and I pay tribute to him for the work in this area. It will continue in 2011 with the vision that every person in Ireland can be open and positive about their own and others’ mental health. The strategy is working to change attitudes to mental health in towns all over Ireland through public events, arts and cultural initiatives, personal stories and testimonies, training and education and innovative partnerships with organisations that share a positive attitude towards mental health. As part of this campaign, See Change is developing the Make a Ripple campaign with the objective of recruiting a dedicated on-line community of ambassadors, advocates, storytellers and volunteers who can help to push the campaign’s objectives and messages on to the national agenda. This campaign will contribute to eliminating the stigma so often associated with mental illness and I am very happy to lend my support to it.

Minister Kathleen Lynch TD (Suicide Prevention Statements)

It was heartening to hear all parties united on the commitment to prioritise and build all-party concensus on suicide prevention. Fianna Fail TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl said:

I congratulate the new Minister of State on her recent appointment and I hope that she will continue to support the See Change campaign. It is vital that we create an environment where people are more open and positive in their attitudes and behaviour towards mental health. We all need to connect with young people, young men and boys in particular, in their communities, in sports organisations and in schools, to encourage them to be open and talk about their emotions and to look after their individual mental health.

We’ll be keeping Oireachtas members and other decision makers fully briefed and up to date with See Change activities. We’ll also make sure to share parliamentary discussions on mental health stigma and discrimination through this site and our newsletter. In the meantime, contact your local TD and tell them that mental health matters!

Mark Byrne

Communications & Partnership Coordinator

See Change

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