We all have a role to play

Mental health supports

Yesterday’s appeal from Maureen Cuddihy, speaking at her parents Jimmy and Kathleen’s funerals in Carndonagh, Co Donegal, that people with mental health problems should seek and get medical help, will resonate in nearly every home across the country. If it does not, then it should.

The couple were found dead at their home in Churchtown last Thursday morning. Their youngest son, Julian, 42, has been charged with their murders, and a judge has ordered that he be assessed by a psychiatrist.

Though this is a particularly tragic example of what can happen in extreme circumstances, it is not by any means an isolated case and many families will know that the Cuddihy’s tragedy could just as easily have been theirs.

When a tragedy like this happens, and unfortunately they happen with a chilling frequency, it is easy to blame the health services and suggest that it might not have happened if better, more focussed and more easily accessed support had been available to those who might need them. Of course there is a core truth to that argument, but it is hard not to think that society’s conservative and sometimes less than understanding attitude to mental health issues plays a significant part.

That the pain and isolation this unloving and unkind attitude causes is more often than not unintentional does not diminish its impact. All of us have a positive role to play in this issue and we should have to courage to accept that.

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