A big problem for many people experiencing mental health conditions is stigma. For example, negative attitudes and behaviours towards people experiencing mental health conditions can affect employment, access to accommodation, and the emotional impact of stigma can be a profound source of suffering. In young people, mental health stigma is also a barrier to seeking help, which is particularly concerning given that most mental health conditions develop before the age of 24.
A pilot study ‘Knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours towards schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism’ in the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, (Mothersill et al., 2021) examined mental health stigma in over 300 people across Ireland. Results suggest that people have more negative attitudes and behaviours towards schizophrenia compared to some other mental health conditions, and most participants felt they were not informed enough about mental health by the media.
A new laboratory was established in National College of Ireland to build on this research: the Stigma and Mental health Ireland (SAMI) laboratory, directed by Dr. April Hargreaves, Dr. David Mothersill, and Dr. Gerard Loughnane. SAMI has received generous funding from Esther Ireland to carry out further stigma research in a population-representative sample of 1,000 participants in Ireland, and is partnering with The Carter Centre to repeat this research in a further 1,000 participants in Liberia, to compare mental health stigma between Europe and Africa.
Ultimately, it is intended that this research will provide key data for Government policies and campaigns targeting mental health stigma. SAMI is proud to collaborate with Shine, who run the See Change Green Ribbon campaign, working to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health difficulties, as well as Headline, which is Ireland’s national programme for responsible reporting and representation of mental health difficulties across all media platforms.