September 11, 2007

One in seven has psychological problems

Irish Health

One in seven people in Ireland had significant psychological distress in the past year, a survey has found.

A study by the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that around 14% of people had mental distress, but only 9% saw their GP for non-physical symptoms.

The study surveyed 2,711 adults aged 18 and over in the first half of last year. A final report will be published in October.

Lead researcher Donna Tedstone Doherty said the survey found that people tended to go to their family doctor rather than mental health services. At the time of questioning, 12%, or nearly one in eight, said they were currently in psychological distress.

The 14% figure is consistent with international figures for incidence of mental illness.

‘This study is starting to give us a better picture of the extent of psychological distress in the Irish population,’ said Dr Tedstone Doherty. She said mental ill health should be acknowledged as a real health problem, and the stigma that remains should be removed.

The initial summary is being presented at a three-day conference at Dublin City University. The DCU nursing school has an ongoing project called Health4Life, and the second annual conference, which runs through tomorrow, will hear the findings.

A separate HRB investigation of how free people felt to talk about mental ill health found that people who were generally well were more likely to tell others than those who had continual mental helath problems. That study, 'It's Good to Talk', will be released later this month.