Remove the stigma of Mental illness and work towards earlier intervention

13 10 2012

Speaking after attending a seminar last week as part of World Mental Health Day, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham said he is more convinced now than ever that the negative stigma which many people attach to mental health is a major barrier to the individual sufferer’s health and quality of life. The stigma deters individuals particularly young people from seeking help in the early stages of the illness, preventing them from engaging in everyday social activities, and reduces their access to employment opportunities.

 “The message has to get out there  most people with mental illness do get better and that those people with enduring mental ill-health can enjoy a good quality of life.”

Everyone including mental health professionals and advocates need to work to highlight good practice and to encourage early intervention. Removing society’s stigma will help towards the detection and treatment of a psychotic mental illness during the critical early phases.

Delays in treatment and support can cause distress, increase the risk of relapse and can be harmful for the individual and their friends/family/carers. Early treatment has been shown to improve the long-term course of psychosis.

The longer mental illness is left untreated; the impact of an individual’s life including their relationships, studies and employment may be greatly disrupted. This can apply at the critical stages of a young person’s life, adolescence and young adulthood when they are making plans for their career and future. Being able to treat psychosis early greatly increases the person’s odds of being able to enjoy a healthy and productive future.

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