We need to end the stigma associated with men’s mental health

Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell has called for an expansion of awareness campaigns on mental health issues as Men’s Health Week begins on Monday, June 15th.

Deputy Farrell said, “Over the past number of years we have made progress in raising awareness about mental health issues, but this should be just the beginning, by re-doubling our efforts through schools, traditional media, social media and clubs, we can break down the remaining walls around mental illness, that have kept too many, particularly men, feeling unable to discuss issues that may be affecting them.”

“Many organisations, such as Men’s Sheds, provide an invaluable service in breaking the silence, not just related to mental health but also physical health, that men often endure. Creating safe spaces such as these are key to overcoming the challenge facing us.”

“Recent provisional data released by the CSO and HSE show that men in Ireland continue to account for the vast majority of suicides each year.”

Deputy Farrell continued, “While younger generations have, in some respects, led the way in breaking down social stigmas about mental health, Ireland’s youth suicide rate remains too high and new societal pressures from a range of sources, including social media, have, for some, intensified the struggle.”

“The second ‘My World Survey’, published in 2019 by UCD and Jigsaw, demonstrated that 41% of young people had thought about suicide and of those that made a suicide attempt less than half had accessed support in the aftermath. Moreover, of those that did access support 40% said it was difficult or very difficult to get the support they needed.”

Deputy Farrell added, “What we need is a whole-of-society approach to tackle these issues. Regular awareness campaigns, promoting positive mental health in schools and sports clubs across the country can begin to remove the stigma around mental health.”

“Many people in Ireland will experience some form of mental illness and it can happen at any age. However, we can beat this, but beating it will require us to create a society and systems that gives people the confidence to speak up when something is wrong.”