Sunday, September 23, 2012

Small Irish Poll Shows Depth of Stigma.

An article by Paul Gilligan (CEO, St Patrick's University Hospital) published in the Irish newspaper Sunday Independent has highlighted how bad stigma can be and that it is costing lives. The stigma surrounding mental illness makes people reluctant to discuss their problems and they often feel they cannot seek help.

A small poll of 300 people at St Patrick's University Hospital in Dublin produced some shocking results, even for those used to seeing how bad stigma can be. The poll showed that:

  • 20% of people believe that those suffering mental health problems are of below average intelligence.
  • Over 40% considered seeking help for mental health problems is a sign of personal failure.
  • Two-thirds expressed reluctance to hire someone with a history of mental illness, believing them to be unreliable.
  • Over 30% admitted they would not willingly accept someone with a mental illness as a close friend.

Considering that there is a probability that some participants in the research wouldn't want to admit to having a negative view, it is quite possible the true levels of stigma could be much higher.

Gilligan goes on to discuss factors that go into creating (and maintaining) the stigma. These include human factors such as fear and a lack of understanding/knowledge. Then there is denial, both by the sufferer refusing to believe they could have a mental illness, and those who don't even believe there is such a thing as mental illness.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weathering The Weather: is it SAD?

Over the last few weeks we've been having some fantastic spring weather here on the east coast of Australia. Brilliant sunny days and crisp clear nights. It really has been wonderful. At the same time I've been feeling a little more alive, things seeming a little easier. I suppose that many people feel like this, with warm summer days making it easier to get going than cold, wet winter days.  But is it all a little SAD?

Seasonal affectiive disorder (SAD) is now widely recognised as a common disorder, despite initial skepticism. But what a lot of people don't realize is it is NOT a stand-alone diagnosis. In fact it is associated with a major depressive episode for people with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

It is also commonly believed that the depressive feelings of SAD are associated only with winter, but in fact can occur at any time of the year, regardless of season. While winter is the most common season for the symptoms to show, all SAD really needs is repeated periods of depression at around the same time each year - winter, spring, summer or autumn, it doesn't matter which.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

UQ Law Students Raise Awareness of Mental Health Issues

The University of Queensland Law Student Society (UQLS) will delve into the reasons for a high rate of depression, stress and anxiety among law students at a mental health forum this month. 

UQ and law firm Allens will host ‘Mental Health in the Australian Legal Profession,' forum at the University on September 12. 

The program has a line-up of expert speakers including psychologist David Whittingham, Legal Services Commissioner (QLD) John Briton, Annette Bradfield, Deputy President of the Queensland Law Society and special guest Kate Carnell, CEO of Beyond Blue. 

The forum is part of The University of Queensland's Law Student Society's strategy to stem the unusually high rate of mental health issues among law students.

The full article and forum details are available on the University of Queensland website

The information contained in this blog can not be considered medical advice. These are only my own thoughts, feelings & ideas. If you or someone you know are having problems with mental illness please seek qualified medical advice.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sinéad O'Connor Concert For Mental Health

Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor is teaming up with Cork-based mental health campaign group Mad Pride Ireland to play a fundraising concert at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork on October 19th. The concert is the first of a series of high-profile associations to promote more understanding of mental health in Ireland.

Mad Pride Ireland's chief executive David McCarthy said he hoped the concert would help highlight the issue of mental health and 'the need for the wider community to engage with the normality of madness'.

Mr McCarthy said the group believed that the best way to promote understanding of mental health was to engage the community through active participation in a fun environment.

O'Conner is to be supported at the concert by the Ger Wolfe Trio. Tickets are available at the Triskel or through their website

The information contained in this blog can not be considered medical advice. These are only my own thoughts, feelings & ideas. If you or someone you know are having problems with mental illness please seek qualified medical advice.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Cost of Mental Health: More Than Money

Sunday September 2nd is Fathers Day here in Australia and, as normal for me around special occasions, it has had me thinking about what my mental health problems have cost me over the years. Not in terms of money, but in other ways. My conclusion: it has cost me plenty.

Dealing with mental health costs everyone financially; sufferers, families, friends & the entire community. But for those dealing with the illnesses it usually costs far more in the way of family, friends & living standards. So much of our lives can be affected both directly & indirectly by the illness and its treatments - and the stigma that surrounds it.

Left untreated, mental illness can make life hell for everyone around the sufferer. Even when you get a diagnosis it can be just as hard. A lot of times it's hard to get a correct diagnosis and then it is usually a lot of trial & error to find a treatment plan that works or helps the patient. It can take years to get things anywhere near right.