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Stigma is a barrier to mental health recovery - Kelly

19 November, 2008 - by Gerry Kelly

People with mental illness find stigma and how others judge them to be the greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life, Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly told a mental health conference.

Speaking at the 'Promoting Equality for People with Mental Health Disabilities' conference at Stormont Mr Kelly said society often feels uncomfortable about mental health problems.

"Mental illness is not seen like other health problems. The stigma attached to the illness has often prevented treatment and recovery. People have been marginalised and treated as outcasts.

"Due to inaccuracies and misunderstandings, people have been led to believe that an individual with a mental illness has a weak character or is inevitably dangerous. Many were talked about in hushed voices, if mentioned at all.

"The equality of treatment for people with a mental illness is a priority for the administration in the fight for social justice in the creation of a society which is fair and just and which offers the individual dignity and respect.

"We have a major challenge ahead in creating a fairer society. It is clear that addressing both the causes of mental health disabilities and the barriers and discrimination people with mental illness experience, is at the heart of that challenge," added Mr Kelly.

Note to Editors

  • The Promoting Equality for People with Mental Health Disabilities - Learning for Local Government Conference was organised by the Local Government Staff Commission for the North of Ireland.
  • Organised in partnership with the Equality Commission the conference was designed to utilise good practice case studies and share, through personal experiences, how to better meet the needs of people with mental health disabilities.

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