Today we must think about those we've lost to suicide and those who near that point. Those who feel helpless, desperate, and alone. We shouldn't blame ourselves and we shouldn't blame them. The mind doesn't speak for itself: it needs our actions and will and desire to communicate. The power of talking blows the fuse on despondency.
But although things are changing on a micro level and we are opening up, a stigma about mental health remains. St Patrick's Mental Health Services today released some startling statistics from an online survey they undertook:
- Only 53% think those with a mental health difficulty are trustworthy.
- 67% think Irish people view being treated for a mental health difficulty as a sign of personal failure.
- About 1 in 4 think Irish people would not accept someone with a mental health issue as a close friend.
- 21% believe Irish employers would be comfortable employing someone with a mental health problem.
- 29% would not trust someone with a previous mental health difficulty to babysit.
- 53% of people have worked with someone who has been treated with a mental health issue.
- 62% have a close friend who was treated with a mental health difficulty.
- 43% report that a member of their family was previously treated.
- 9% would not want to live next door to someone who previously had a mental health problem.
- 5% say people with a previous history of a mental health issue should be excluded from taking public office.
- 13% would not marry someone who previously experienced a mental health problem even though he/she seems fully recovered.
What's interesting is how respondents address the question of what 'Irish people' think. It doesn't matter what 'Irish people' think. Thinking like this perpetuates the stigma. The stigma remains because we are caught up in the views of others.
Instead, we should think about our own feelings, our own views, our own friends, and our own families. We cannot control how other people think. And trying to do so is unhealthy.
To truly tackle stigma and to truly tackle suicide, we need to talk and trust ourselves. The stigma will fall away when we take control of our own views and ignore what 'Irish people' think.
So if you are having issues, are unhappy and feel unheard, speak up: you may believe the world is deaf; but it's only listening to your silence.