60% would be secretive about mental health issue

SIX out of 10 people would not want anyone to know they had mental health problems, research reveals.

And it is not so easy for a person with a mental health problem to find someone to talk to — one in three said they would find this difficult.

The findings of the national survey of 1,000 adults were released at yesterday’s launch of the Health Service Executive’s mental health awareness campaign called Your Mental Health.

Head of the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention Geoff Day said the campaign aimed to reduce the stigma attached to mental health problems.

He was concerned a number of people were socially isolated and did not have many people to count on.

One in five said they saw friends or family less than once a week; 40% attended social or leisure events less than once a month and more than a third felt they had fewer than three people close to them that they could count on.

About eight out of 10 agree anyone can have mental health problems.

More than 70% said they would go to their GP if they thought they had a mental health problem. Other people they would talk to are a partner (27%), close friend (22%), mother (20%) and counsellor or therapist (17%).

Director of the Samaritans Ireland Suzanne Costello said: “Encouraging people to seek help when they first experience distress, isolation or anxiety is an important factor in reducing suicide.”

She said talking to family, friends or support services was often effective.

Minister of State Dr Jimmy Devins said the campaign was to improve awareness and understanding of mental health.

* www.hse.ie

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