'Stigma' | 

72pc of Irish people would struggle to live with someone with a 'severe' mental illness

However, three quarters of the population (75pc) admitted that they don’t actually know what a severe and enduring mental illness is.

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Neasa Cumiskey

A staggering 72pc of people in Ireland say they would not want to live with someone with a “severe and enduring” mental illness, new figures show.

However, three quarters of the population (75pc) admitted that they don’t actually know what a severe and enduring mental illness is.

That’s according to research from See Change, Ireland’s organisation dedicated to ending mental health stigma, who carried out a survey to investigate how people with mental illness are perceived by the public.

See Change’s report states that the term “severe and enduring mental health condition” is used to describe a person whose mental health problem is long-lasting and requires ongoing support and/or treatments.

Further research found that only one third of participants linked the phrase to a long-term illness while just 16pc associated the term ‘severe and enduring’ with a mental health disorder or condition.

Furthermore, a mere 16pc of people identified as having a severe and enduring mental health condition and only one in four identified as supporting someone with a severe and enduring mental illness.

According to See Change, these findings reveal that there is a lack of knowledge about mental health challenges and illnesses.

Barbara Brennan, See Change Programme Leader, said that more work needs to be done to make the language around mental health more accessible.

“Making our language more accessible will better enable us to have more honest conversations about mental health and equip those with mental health difficulties to access the supports and services available,” she said.

“These findings tell us that there is still a high degree of fear from the general public around mental illnesses.

“While we have got better at understanding the term ‘mental health,’ many still lack enough education about the more severe and complex mental illnesses.

“For example, many people do not understand that lots of people living with a mental illness are still perfectly capable of working, parenting and having a regular social life.

“We need to work together to challenge this shame and stigma to create a culture where people can openly have conversations about mental illnesses, without fear of being ridiculed or rejected.”

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