Survey finds mental health still carries stigma
on 10/09/2012 07:23:29
A survey to mark World Suicide Day found almost a third of people would not willingly accept someone with a mental health problem as a close friend.
And 62% admitted they would discriminate against hiring someone with a history of mental illness on the grounds they may be unreliable.
St Patrick's University Hospital in Dublin warned it is crucial vulnerable people can get high quality care from a service they trust.
Some 525 people died from suicide in Ireland last year, up from 486 in 2010.
Paul Gilligan, chief executive of the mental health and addiction facility, said: "Data from the World Health Organisation indicate that approximately one million people worldwide die by suicide each year.
"This translates to one death by suicide every 40 seconds."
St Patrick's is holding a series of free information evenings every Tuesday for families and carers to promote an understanding of the illness.
Its survey found more than a fifth of people quizzed believe those suffering from mental health problems are below average intelligence, with 42% feeling that undergoing treatment for a mental health problem is a sign of personal failure.
Elsewhere the St Patrick's survey of 300 members of the public, found four out of 10 people have had a family close member treated, with 60% having a close friend who received help and more than half have worked with someone who has been treated for emotional or mental health problems.
"These figures highlight the critical requirement to reduce stigma and barriers to accessing mental healthcare," said Mr Gilligan.
"It's also essential that those looking for help are provided with adequate high quality services that they can trust in."
Former world champion boxer Bernard Dunne also urged people to talk to each other to battle the scourge of suicide.
He said people need to be able to speak about their mental health issues.
"Being a man often means that you're not used to talking to other people about what's on your mind. That stigma has to be lifted," he said.
"When I retired from boxing I was lucky that I had a strong network around me that encouraged me to open up. Other people are not so lucky."
Dunne joined Hundreds of people in Console Walk and Talk at the Phoenix Park, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.
The suicide prevention charity based the fundraiser on getting extended families together for a chat and a stroll - based on the twin suicide prevention themes of community and communication.
Anyone in crisis should call Console's 1Life 24-hour helpline support on 1800 247 100.
Dunne said if just one person is encouraged to pick up the phone, then the day had been a success.
"Suicide is not just one life lost, so many lived are ruined as a result," he added.