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70% of adults in Northern Ireland have experienced a mental health problem in the last twelve months.
That’s millions of people who are struggling. It's an overwhelming portion of the population and an issue that needs addressing urgently.
One of the most concerning parts of recent mental health research in Ireland surrounds attitudes towards mental health in general.
Research reveals that 68% of people in Northern Ireland believe being treated for a mental health difficulty is seen as a sign of personal failure.
Yet mental health problems are common—many people suffer from them. This misperception can lead people to avoid seeking treatment or speaking up if they are struggling. But beyond treatment and acceptance lies recovery.
In this article, we’re looking into how stigma holds us back and how we can overcome it—both individually and in the workplace.
There are different types of stigma. We’ve got:
Discrimination: being treated differently for having a mental health issue.
Stereotypes: misconceptions or misbeliefs about people with mental health issues.
These can come in different forms and from different people, ranging from employers to friends and family to media representations.
Stigma might look like a lack of understanding from others, denied opportunities or misconceptions that people with mental health issues are unpredictable, to blame or weak.
This stigma can also arise in people experiencing a mental health condition themselves. Negative perceptions can be taken on by the person, who can begin to feel to blame for their condition and experience lowered self-esteem as a result.
There are ways that we can start to overcome the mental health stigma in Ireland, both individually and institutionally. We’ve put together our top tips below:
Avoid stigmatising others by learning more about the different mental health conditions and their symptoms before you judge others.
If we can all be more open about our feelings from day to day— it opens up a window of opportunity for those who might be struggling.
Remember how stigma impacts people with mental health issues and show compassion for those struggling.
Employers have a big job to do in breaking the mental health stigma at work. Research shows that 70% of Irish workers would fear disclosing a mental health issue to an employer. Here are some things you can do to break workplace stigma around mental health.
Equip your managers with the skills they need to have supportive conversations around mental health and deal with any issues that might arise confidently.
Make your commitment to tackling mental health stigma known to all staff—if you can get senior stakeholders on board, even better.
By providing mental health support to your employees, you encourage treatment and help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in your workplace.
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