Mental health stigma must be addressed if people are to seek help, city event to be told

The stigma surrounding mental health difficulties must be urgently addressed if people are to seek the help they need to get better, according to the chief executive of St Patrick’s mental health services in Dublin.

Paul Gilligan - who will speak at a free public information event in Galway next week on mental health stigma and the key signs of anxiety and depression - said the stigma of experiencing mental difficulties directly inhibits people from seeking help.

Referring to recent research carried out by his service he outlined that 20 per cent of those surveyed believed that mental health sufferers were of below average intelligence.

“Thirty per cent said they would not accept someone with mental health difficulties and 41 per cent saw undergoing treatment as a sign of personal failure,” he stated.

People are becoming more aware of their mental health in recent years as statistics show that anxiety and depression are on the rise today.

The importance of early intervention will be emphasised at the presentation which takes place at the Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill, on Tuesday at 6.30pm.

The event, which will include a questions and answers session, is being organised by the Dean Clinic Galway which is part of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Ireland’s largest independent and not-for-profit mental health service provider.

A community based mental health recovery service, the local Dean Clinic, which is located at Merchant’s Square, Merchant’s Road, is one of seven clinics operated by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services. The organisation receives fees for its services from service users and/or their health insurance companies.

Clinicians from the Dean Clinic who will attend the information evening will include Professor Jim Lucey, the medical director and a consultant psychiatrist at the Dean Clinic Galway, Dr Dympna Gibbons, and CEO at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Paul Gilligan. They will be joined by former Galway hurler and psychologist Iggy Clarke.

Dr Gibbons said that recognising the early onset signs of anxiety and depression can make a vital difference in a person’s recovery.

“Meetings such as this are important so that we can highlight these symptoms and educate whole communities on the importance of mental health.”

She added that empowering people with the tools and the knowledge of early detection and intervention is a vital step on the road to recovery for many.

Speaking on the topic of “Anxiety and Recovery”, Professor Jim Lucey, the medical director at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, will discuss the latest understanding of psychotherapy and “why therapy works”.

He stressed that recovery is possible because human beings can learn. “In recovery we learn to overcome our mental distress and unlock the power of the brain so that we once again are able to live, work and love.”

Paul Gilligan, the chief executive of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services will also elaborate on the recently announced nationwide awareness campaign, entitled, ‘Don’t Wait to Enjoy Life Again’, aimed at encouraging people experiencing mental health difficulties to seek support, particularly from their GP.

A free mental health information and support line staffed by experienced mental health nurses is available from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an answering and call-back facility outside hours. Telephone (01 ) 2493333 or email [email protected] or log on to www.stpatricks.ie for further information.

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