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28 July, 2020

“Stigma doesn’t matter, I do”: No Stigma campaign launches

Image from #NoStigma campaign showing a mechanic in his workplace

St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) is delighted to launch today our new No Stigma campaign, which aims to reframe mental health stigma.

The campaign reimagines a society without mental health stigma and discrimination by showing the positive effect on life when they are not experienced. It serves as a reminder that life without stigma means we all get to live it.

Stigma doesn't matter, we do

You can support the No Stigma campaign by:

Stigma doesn't matter, we do

  • sharing your personal experiences or thoughts on the positive difference it has made when stigma or discrimination is not experienced
  • learning about what a home, work or community without stigma would mean for people living with mental health difficulties
  • sharing the campaign message and assets with friends and contacts or in your work or community, and using our #NoStigma hashtag.

Leaving stigma behind

Leaving stigma behind

No Stigma aims to highlight how it serves us all collectively when we can live free from mental health stigma and discrimination, and how this enables us to fully participate and access the support we may need in our communities, with our families and friends, and within work life.

Right now, minding our mental health and supporting each other is key to getting through these challenging times. This is true for us all - from parents working at home while caring for children and people cocooning for extended periods, to essential and healthcare workers working so hard at the frontline. 

As we move into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to leave mental health stigma behind. 

The importance of this is highlighted through findings from our Annual Stigma and Attitudes Survey 2020 , which show that 27% of Irish people are reporting that, for the first time, they or a loved one are experiencing mental health difficulties. The nationwide survey, which polled 800 adults throughout the month of June 2020, also found that:

  • 63% of people believe that being treated for a mental health difficulty is still seen by Irish society as a sign of personal failure
  • 45% of people believe that Irish society would not treat someone with a mental health difficulty the same as anyone else
  • 21% of people would consider it a sign of weakness if they sought help for a mental health difficulty, yet only 8% would consider it a sign of weakness if a friend, family member or colleague sought help for a mental health difficulty
  • 45% were concerned about their or a family member’s mental health due to the pandemic
  • 18% of respondents said they, or a family member, have sought help for a mental health difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey also underscored that 72% of people believe that Irish society’s response to mental health issues over the coming months will be important, with mental health is among people’s top three concerns when thinking about the year ahead from a societal perspective.

Transforming our mental health journeys

Transforming our mental health journeys

Speaking about the new campaign, Paul Gilligan, Chief Executive Officer of SPMHS, said: 

“As we begin to understand the impact that this pandemic is having on our mental health, the No Stigma campaign is an opportunity to reimagine what society can achieve collectively if we support each other through these challenges within our home, work and community.  We need to be ready, open and responsive to each other’s mental health needs, as this is something that will have affected us all, directly or indirectly.  Our vision is for a reshaped Ireland where stigma and mental health discrimination do not exist.”

Meanwhile, Gary Kiernan, a member of our Service User and Supporters Council, spoke about his experience of life without stigma: 

“After living with depression for two years, I began to reframe it as an illness just like any other physical illness, which allowed me to move forward past the stigma and seek the necessary support. Suddenly, I began to feel like a hero, a person that has a mental health difficulty but who has accepted it and who can now tell his story without letting stigma stand in the way.   

“I am very passionate about the launch of the No Stigma campaign. My mental health journey completely transformed when stigma was not experienced, and I believe that others experiencing mental health difficulties can experience the same sense of support and liberation that I did when I left stigma behind.”

Getting involved

Getting involved

More resources and ways to get involved are available by visiting nostigma.ie, where you can also find more information on how we are all protected from mental health discrimination under law, and where to get help and support if needed.

Businesses and advocacy groups including IBEC, Sport Ireland Local Partnerships, Inform, Exterion Media, Orb and First Fortnight have also pledged to support the campaign by sharing the No Stigma message with networks of members, clients and supporters, and we hope that this will encourage other businesses and organisations across Ireland to do the same.