It’s all in our head!

Mental Health Week is well under way at this stage after beginning on Monday and will finish this Sunday.

MHI_Dignity_PosterIncluded in this day is the World Mental Health Day taking place on Saturday the 10th of October. The World Health Organisation theme for this year is ‘Dignity in Mental Health’.

The UN Declaration on Human Right’s is clear in stating the rights and dignity of each human being yet WHO in their ‘Dignity in Mental Health’ report state that:

“all around the world, people with mental and psychosocial disabilities are deprived of their human rights. They are not only discriminated against but also subject to emotional, physical and sexual abuse in mental health facilities as well as in the community. In addition, poor quality of care due to a lack of qualified health and mental health professionals and dilapidated mental health facilities can lead to further violations.” [1]

While awareness the acknowledgement of mental health disabilities has grown internationally in recent years, there is a long way to go, especially in countries termed as ‘developing’ countries. WHO calls for mental health legislation and the active input of people with psychosocial disabilities in the formulation of this legislation.

Looking closer to home, we need to change some of our opinions as a nation to ensure we offer full dignity to those suffering from mental disabilities. According to a recent survey by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services [2] 65% of respondents said that being treated for a mental health problem is viewed as a failure by Irish society. It’s interesting that ‘mental health problems’ are still not seen in the same light as physical illnesses by many in this country. While 53% of respondents claimed to have worked with people who suffered from mental health problems, 1 in 5 said they would not trust a person who previously had a mental health problem. It was also disheartening to read that the survey found that 58% of respondents disagreed that Irish people would treat a person with a mental health problem the same as someone else.

Paul Galligan, the CEO of St Patrick’s Services said that:

“People that proactively seek and receive help are taking a courageous step on the road to recovery. Irish Society should encourage and support this. And we as a society should encourage this. While there are many mental health public awareness campaigns being run throughout Ireland there is a need to tackle these misunderstandings and stigmatising attitudes and this is best achieved through a concerted schools based education campaign.”

One can agree that there should be a schools based education campaign but there be more awareness raised amongst the general population of how many people’s views and opinions are impinging upon the rights and dignity of people suffering from mental health problems in this country. The impact of these views is seen as perhaps subtle, with little effect, but in fact these views are serving in upholding the stigma and unfair treatment of people with mental health problems. Cancer survivors are rightly held as heroes, they are not seen as failures, this should not be the case in terms of those suffering from mental health problems. Would you stop trusting a person because they had chicken-pox? Would you treat a person who had to get their kidney removed differently from someone who didn’t? Yes it is all in our head, our collective heads, let not allow for the next generation to inherit this.

Dignity is for all no matter what the illness.

More information can be found at Mental Health Ireland’s website:
and WHO’s website: