See Change in association with Dundalk Institute of Technology School of Nursing – yesterday hosted a meeting on mental health stigma which attracted over 110 students and staff members. See Change is a national coalition of organisations working to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland. Speaking at the meeting was Barbara Brennan, Derek Pepper and Kahlil Thompson-Coyle from See Change and Shine, Garreth Phelan from the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention, and Seán McKiernan from Mental Health Ireland.
Kahlil Thompson Coyle, See Change campaign manager, said: “it was fantastic to see so many young people engaged and learning about mental health problems. Young people aged 18-24 are one of the key target groups for our campaign, and it’s absolutely vital that young people feel that they can speak openly and honestly about mental health problems.”
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.
“Research from See Change (public attitudes towards mental health problems, 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 experienced a mental health problem. Just as worrying is the statistic that nearly 30 per cent of young men would delay seeking help for fear of someone finding out. See Change is working to get the message out in communities all over Ireland that we need to start changing minds about mental health problems,” said Ms. Thompson Coyle.
See Change is encouraging young people to get involved in Make a Ripple, an online campaign to build a community of voices against stigma and discrimination. The idea is simple – we want people to speak out against stigma by leaving a comment on the Make a Ripple site (coming soon), on our facebook page or through twitter. International evidence says that telling stories and sharing experiences can be one of the most effective ways to change attitudes, tackle stigma and challenge discrimination.
After the launch, we’ll be inviting everyone to visit the site and make a ripple. Before that though, we need to gather 100 contributions so that the site has lots of stories and pledges when we open it up to the public. We’re asking for your help by signing up as one of our first 100 ambassadors. We only need 100 words or less, and it can be about your own experience of mental health problems and your journey to recovery, a message about how someone else’s experience affected you, or a plea for others to start talking openly and honestly about mental health problems.
We hope to create a ripple effect that will allow us to reach more and more people with the message that we need to be open, honest and accepting about our own and others mental health.
The campaign launches in May 2011. Help us change minds and start conversations about mental health problems in Ireland. If you’d like to become an ambassador, just drop an email at