ANN CAHILL: Financial crisis brings gloom but Irish among happiest in EU

THE economic crisis is taking its toll on Irish people with fewer feeling happy compared with four years ago.

But despite suffering the biggest downturn of any economy in the EU, Irish people still feel more positive more often than our European colleagues.

The major blackspot is on the jobs front where a third believe their jobs are under threat. That is significantly more than the average European though less than other crisis-stricken nations like Latvia and Greece.

But the number suffering depression or seeking help from professionals has not risen – and neither has the number on anti-depressants, according to the latest research into the state of mental health among EU citizens.

Europeans who most often feel positive are the Finns and the Dutch while Latvians, British and Lithuanians are at the other end of the scale. Just 12% of Irish sought help from a professional because of psychological or emotional problems in the past year which was 2% less than four years ago and less than the EU average of 15%.

Around 6% of Irish people were on antidepressants last year – just less than the EU average and the same as in 2006.

Labour MEP Nessa Childers who chairs the European Parliament’s Mental Health Interest group said the survey was an important contribution to the debate on mental health.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is that those who are experiencing mental health difficulties speak openly and honestly about what they are experiencing and seek assistance if required,” she said.

Around one in 10 EU citizens suffer mental disorders and the survey tried to measure this by asking how many people felt they had not accomplished as much as they would like to in the previous year because of physical or emotional problems.

Those with the least emotional problems tend to be men, those aged between 15 and 24, self-employed, managers, manual workers, those who earn enough money to pay the bills, and those in the higher earning social groups.

The issue of mental health will be discussed at a conference in Lisbon next month.


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