09/10/2001

World Mental Health Day helps to dispel myths

The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Bairbre de Brún, has emphasised the importance of World Mental Health Day which is taking place on 10 October.

In a message to mark the day on 10 October, Ms de Brún said: “100,000 patients attending GP surgeries here each year are diagnosed as having some form of mental illness and up to 13,000 will be referred each year to outpatient psychiatric clinics. It is incumbent on us, as a society, to provide the help and support needed to sufferers, and to make the promotion of mental health a priority for all.

“This is why it is important to have occasions like World Mental Health Day, to raise awareness of the issues involved, highlight potential dangers to mental health and, perhaps most of all, dispel the myths that have for too long been associated with mental illness”.

The importance of mental health issues has been highlighted by ‘Investing for Health’, the Executive’s public health initiative. Ms de Brún said: “The largest single issue highlighted as a priority for action throughout the ‘Investing for Health’ consultation process was that of mental health, with around a third of all respondents in favour of prioritising it.

“Yet mental illness is often not acknowledged, even by those most affected by it. Mental illness is seen as a stigma, and it can isolate the sufferer, not only from society in general but often also from their own families. Mental illness is seen almost exclusively in negative terms – it is often a source of misunderstanding, fear and rejection in the playground, at work and even in the family.

“Clearly, prevention is better than cure and it is vital that as much as possible is done to promote good mental health and prevent mental illness.”

The World Mental Health Day is co-sponsored by the World Federation for Mental Health and the World Health Organisation.

The day’s theme is “Mental Health and Work”. World Mental Health Day provides a unique opportunity for a wide variety of local organisations to join with the statutory sector to stage a number of events highlighting mental health issues.

Action Mental Health is coordinating events locally. (AMcE)

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