Attitudes survey reveals mental health stigma


ONE-THIRD of people surveyed about their attitudes to mental health said they would not be able to accept someone with a mental health problem as a close friend.

The same proportion also believed those suffering from mental health issues were below average intelligence. The survey of 187 people was conducted by Marketing Network Limited for St Patrick’s hospital ahead of World Mental Health Day tomorrow.

Separately, Grow, the mental health charity, has called on the Government to spend a promised €27 million on core mental health services which it said was not spent in 2008. The organisation cited a sevenfold increase in young adults attending its mental health support groups this year.

The medical director of St Patrick’s hospital, Prof Jim Lucey, said the findings of its survey were disappointing but not surprising. Despite 52 per cent of respondents claiming that a close member of their family had been treated, it found 40 per cent of people still felt that undergoing treatment for mental health problems was a sign of failure. Some 40 per cent of respondents said they would discriminate against someone with a history of mental illness on the grounds they were unreliable.

“There is a stigma when it comes to talking about mental illness,” he said. “There are ‘pull yourself together’ attitudes within the community that the neighbourhood adopts because of fear of the alternative.”

As part of World Mental Health Day, Rehab is encouraging young people to carry out “random acts of kindness” to promote mental wellbeing. The project is asking people to record details of random acts of kindness on its website,