Champion of mental health awareness dies


LEADING MENTAL health campaigner John McCarthy (61) passed away at his home in Cork city yesterday morning.

Mr McCarthy set up Mad Pride in 2008 to campaign against the stigmatisation of mental illness as well as fight for the rights of those diagnosed with such illnesses.

The group sought “to promote the normality of madness” and last August made submissions to the Department of Justice on the proposed new mental health capacity law.

“Our mental health laws allow two psychiatrists to sign a piece of paper and lock you up for the rest of your life because you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health problem,” he said. “It’s based on nothing more than opinion, and that’s part of the cruelty of the mental health system. You can be incarcerated and force-treated against your will.”

Mr McCarthy, who wrote for The Irish Times about his battle with motor neurone disease, passed away at 11am yesterday.

Mr McCarthy acted as a delegate for mental health campaign group MindFreedom when he addressed a UN convention in New York on the rights of the disabled in 2006.

A native of Church Avenue near the North Cathedral in Cork, Mr McCarthy was an auctioneer and publican before he was hospitalised after the collapse of his business.

He ran as an Independent candidate in the 2007 general election in Cork North Central to highlight mental health issues and got 702 first preference votes.

Afterwards he joked he had two main fears entering the race. “My first was that I wouldn’t get a vote and my even bigger fear was that I would get elected.”

He won praise last year when a collection of columns by him were published as The Human Condition.

Mr McCarthy, who is survived by his wife Liz, son David and daughter Jill, will be buried following a humanist service at O’Connor Funeral Home at North Gate Bridge at noon tomorrow.