Thursday, 18 October 2012

an appeal to politicians and opinion formers: Please promote and speak about mental health issues in a positive way

Sunday, October 14, 2012 by

Mental health issues

I would like to make an appeal to politicians and opinion formers. Please promote and speak about mental health issues in a positive way. Thousands of lives are and will be affected including maybe yours’ and your families’.

You influence people and you are role models. Politicians are elected in the first instance because of what you and your party stand for – justice, equality, respect, fairness – all leading to solidarity and a better quality of life. The implicit understanding is that you are beacons reflecting healthy values in your leadership of our nation – whatever the political orientation. As opinion formers you are listened to because readers believe you have something important to say which will make our society better.
Over the last few months we have been exposed to politicians and opinion formers using mental health as a weapon in their political (and I am using the word widely) conflicts. Unfortunately the language used, amateur ‘diagnosis’ made and arguments brought forward about people who experience a mental health problem or thought of having a mental health problem, falls short of the above expectations.

The use of mental health issues as a weapon is continuing to foster the stigma which already exists and it is belittling us as a nation. People with mental health problems and their families have nothing to be ashamed of and it is extremely offensive not only to them but it is an affront to a civilised society at large. People with mental health problems are citizens who vote, they have multiple roles to live – they are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, colleagues, grandparents, friends, neighbours, policy makers, opinion formers and politicians.

They contribute actively to society and without them there will be at least 100,000 people less to contribute to this small nation of ours. You are expected to inspire the fight against stigma and not perpetrate it. The behaviour over recent months may lead to discrimination which in turn leads to injustice and inequality.

Please practice zero tolerance to stigma associated with mental health issues and prioritise mental health by discussing the topic and issues related with it in an informed and mature manner. As politicians and opinion formers you can ensure that stigma is drastically addressed and that your political party will place mental health as a priority on its agenda. Please remember that there is no health without mental health and without mental health there is no sound economy.

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