February 12, 2010

PROVIDING ALL the money in the world for the development of mental health services will be useless unless the fear people have of accessing these services can be addressed, Minister of State with responsibility for mental health John Moloney said yesterday.

“I’ve met many people, and I’ve been going around for the last 15 months, who are afraid to talk or even present to the services lest their employers or their colleagues hear about it. And the reason is because of this awful stigma that’s attached,” he said.

He plans to unveil a national programme in April aimed at tackling this continuing stigma.

Well-known sportspeople and broadcasters will be involved and events will be staged at venues around the country, as well as on local radio, to get the message out that there is no need to be afraid to seek help or to be seen going into or out of a centre where mental health services are provided.

He said there were many different levels of mental health support required.

If people with depressive episodes, for example, presented early they could be back at work within weeks, he stressed, adding that this was his own experience when he himself had occasion to access the mental health services some time ago.

He was speaking at the launch in Dublin of a new report from the Health Research Board on the experiences of mental health service users of all ages and what helped them make a recovery.

“Understanding what helps people recover and establishing what hinders recovery is essential,” according to its author Dr Yulia Kartalova O’Doherty.

“Our findings reveal that people’s main concern is reconnecting with life and they do that through self-acceptance, meaningful interaction with others, coming to terms with the past and planning and executing their future,” she said.

It is hoped the findings will now be translated into clinical practice and that they will also show the public “about the possibility and reality of recovery”, Dr Kartalova O’Doherty said.