Speech by Minister Lynch Seminar on “Hope” organised by Cork Mental Health Foundation for Mental Health Awareness Week

I am delighted to be here in Fermoy this morning on World Mental Health Day to mark your Mental Health Awareness week. I am delighted to see many familiar faces that I met when I was here in August.

“Hope” – is something we all need – it is a word that we use everyday – we hope that the week goes well – hope that we are successful in exams, interviews etc., hope that someone sick will get better soon. We say it but it is important to think about what it actually means.

“Hope” is what gives us the belief in a positive outcome, it is the feeling that what we want can be had, or that events will turn out for the best, or at least that we have a reasonable confidence that something desired may happen. As Christopher Reeve once said ~ “Once you choose hope, anything is possible”.

Unfortunately, someone who is feeling down or in distress finds it hard to have that “hope” which keeps the rest of us going. I am confident, however, that during this awareness week you will bring that message of hope and the belief that things will and do get better to those in difficulty.

We are all aware that good mental health is an integral component of general health and wellbeing, which allows a person to realise his or her abilities. With a balanced mental disposition, one is more effective in coping with the stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is better able to make a positive contribution to community life.

Initiatives such as this Mental Health Awareness week encourage all of us to become more aware of our mental health and to develop our own individual strengths to allow us to be better able to bounce back from the challenges and setbacks that life presents.

Of course in becoming more resilient our problems won’t immediately disappear but we will be better able to handle them and see beyond the sometimes overwhelming challenges, enjoy life more and handle stressful situations better.

Mental Health Awareness Campaigns including the See Change and Make A Ripple Stigma Reduction Campaigns aim to encourage people to be more aware of their mental health and encourage people to seek help.

Undoubtedly, the current economic situation is having an effect on people’s mental health and well being. It particularly effects the young adult population who grew up in a time of prosperity when work and opportunities were plentiful. It is very important to acknowledge the strains that many people may be experiencing for the first time in coping with very difficult circumstances.

The economic landscape has changed but the dedication of individuals and organisations like Cork Mental Health Foundation throughout this country will help bring us through these difficult times.

We face many challenges but we must always keep in mind our objective which is to develop a person-centred approach to delivering services and to improve the lives of people affected by mental health problems. By coordinating our efforts and working together we will ensure that people with mental health problems can live their lives as included members of their community.

As Minister with responsibility for mental health, I am committed to progressing the implementation of our Strategy documents on mental health and suicide prevention – A Vision for Change and Reach Out. I have asked the HSE to prepare an implementation plan, which will identify specific recommendations of A Vision for Change and Reach Out that can be progressed over the next three years, with timelines, detailed costs, structures and identifiable person(s) responsible for driving the change.

Finally, I wish you well with your Mental Health Week. It will bring mental health to the attention of many people and make them more aware of their own mental health as well as looking out for the people around them who may be in distress.

Thank you.