Press Release

World Mental Health Day – Dignity in Mental Health

Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State for Mental Health, Primary Care and Social Care (Disabilities and Older People) today, World Mental Health Day said, “as Minister for Mental Health, I am delighted to mark the 10th October, World Mental Health Day.  This is an important day in the mental health calendar which puts mental health centre stage and encourages a national conversation around this issue. It is estimated that one in four or five of us will experience some mental health problems at some point in our lives.  It is important to realise that mental illness is an illness like any other, and it can be treated”.

The Minister added “Today provides us with an opportunity, not only to raise awareness about mental health issues, but also to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of individuals, statutory and non-statutory bodies around the country, working to helping people with mental health problems.

I strongly support the chosen theme for 2015 ‘Dignity in Mental Health’.   Dignity and respect should be central to the work of all mental health professionals. Patients are entitled to be listened to and involved in their care and treatment.  Dignity is also highlighted in the recently published Expert Group Review of the Mental Health Act which proposes that it be included as one of five guiding principles in new mental health legislation.  It recommends that the patient is the person best placed to determine what promotes/compromises his or her own dignity. I consider this to be an important and significant change from the paternalistic approach the Act has fostered over the years.”

The Minister continued “We are all aware of the stigma which is associated with having a mental health problem and that stigma can be the most damaging factor in the life of anyone who has a mental illness.  It is important, therefore, that we change our attitudes and our thinking about mental health and create an environment that recognises and treats people with mental health problems similarly to other health needs.  We need to foster a culture where people in difficulty, do not hesitate to seek help; a culture that recognises the signs and signals of distress and is willing to offer help, and one which embraces difference and excludes  stigma.”

Since coming into office, the Government has prioritised the reform of our mental health services in line with the recommendations in A Vision for Change, our mental health policy.  This Government is committed to reducing the stigma of mental illness, ensuring early and appropriate intervention and improving access to modern mental health services in the community. Since 2012, additional funding totalling €125 million and almost 1,150 new posts have been provided for mental health.