World Suicide Prevention Day 2021
In this next interview we are joined by Fiona Coyle who is the Chief Executive Officer for Mental Health Reform. This organization is Ireland’s leading national coalition on mental health. Mental Health Reform vision is of an Ireland where everyone can access the support they need in their community, to achieve their best possible mental health. This year for World Suicide Prevention Day the theme and aim is to help create a more compassionate society where people can feel comfortable coming forward to seek help if they need it.
With this theme in mind Fiona was firstly asked what role does Mental Health Reform play in creating a more compassionate society?
“As the national coalition for mental health, we are an umbrella organization with over 75 members who are all committed to strengthening mental health services and supports in Ireland. We create a space for all 75 members to come together to speak out with one strong voice toward government, the media and the general public on changes that need to happen”.
Fiona stated in the interview that there are still some very significant barriers and challenges people are facing when speaking out about mental health.
“In Ireland stigma and discrimination are still very prominent and ingrained in us as a society so we need to continue to recognize that and to also breakdown stigma to ensure Ireland is an accepting place for those with all types of mental health challenges”.
Fiona also raised the opinion that Covid-19 has really highlighted the need for further mental health services in our communities. When it comes to some actions people can take to become an advocate for mental health, Fiona emphasized the role of community.
“Showing community is important as it's great to make your voice heard and to stand up as a community to speak up about difficulties and challenges that individuals are facing instead of hiding them. It is important for communities to get involved in government decisions when making budgets to ensure resource are going in the right areas”.
Mental Health Reform produced a report called My Voice Matters which portrayed the opinions of the general public regarding mental health services in Ireland, Fiona voiced that,
“Unfortunately, current services that are being provided do not meet the needs of the population. Waiting lists are of particular concern as hundreds of children are on waiting lists for over a year and this is just not good enough. People need to get the right support at the right time and for many this is just not happening”.
Interestingly Fiona spoke about the Government’s attitude and spending toward mental health services,
“In my opinion money is not everything you need when building strong mental health initiatives as leadership is equally important. However, Ireland is currently only spending 5.5% of the budget on mental health services while countries like the UK are spending 13%”.
Finally, Fiona was asked about what actions we need to take as a society to help improve the lives of those who struggle with mental health issues.
“Investing in the right areas is extremely important. One area which needs major improvement is staffing as our mental health services are based on a staffing model. Additionally, we need to expand our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) as waiting lists for this portion of the population are simply too high. Besides this, other areas of mental health that need to be considered is the social welfare aspect such as individual’s gaining access to affordable housing, employment and education”.
It was very important for us at Empeal to highlight and bring awareness to the mental health issues which are happening in Ireland. Fiona was able to give some great insight into the challenges people are facing and the actions that can be done to create a better society for us all. We urge others to reach out for help and to join this cause in creating a more compassionate society where everyone is heard.
For more information on Mental Health Reform visit mentalhealthreform.ie
Anyone seeking emotional support can contact Samaritans for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 123 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.