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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 05:53 GMT 06:53 UK
Mental health views 'conflicting'
Meeting over mental health issues
The campaign aims to raise the profile of mental health issues
There are conflicting public attitudes to mental health in Northern Ireland, according to the latest research.

The Health Promotion Agency findings are being presented at a seminar to mark World Mental Health Day.

It found while most people think anyone can experience mental health problems, just under half said they should not be allowed to carry out important jobs.

Two in five felt the public should be better protected from people with mental health problems.

Dr Brian Gaffney of the Health Promotion Agency said: "These findings illustrate the complexity of attitudes towards mental health in Northern Ireland.

"Often people are either failing to recognise that they have a mental health problem or are unwilling to disclose it.

"Everyone has mental health needs but many people have a limited understanding of what mental health is and attitudes prevail based on fear or embarrassment.

"Stigma can lead to people being labelled, devalued or set apart from others, preventing them from seeking help and inhibiting their recovery."

The agency is to launch a new public information campaign next year using the research findings.

"The campaign aims to de-stigmatise and increase public awareness of mental health issues and encourage people with mental health problems to seek the appropriate help," said Mr Gaffney.

  • Key findings

  • 63% underestimated the proportion of people who might have a mental health problem at some point

  • 98% agreed anyone can experience mental health problems

  • 54% said that if they were experiencing mental health problems they would not want people knowing about it

  • 46% said they would be afraid of experiencing mental health problems themselves in the future

  • 15% said they have experienced mental health problems themselves

  • 91% agreed people with a mental health problem should have the same rights as anyone else

  • 46% said people experiencing a mental health problem should not be allowed to do important jobs such as medicine or nursing

  • 41% agreed the public should be better protected from people with mental health problems

    The theme of this year's World Mental Health Day is: Building awareness - reducing risks: suicide and mental illness.

    It addresses the high prevalence of suicide among people with a mental illness.

    The seminar about public attitudes to mental health is being held in a Templepatrick hotel on Tuesday.

    The full report will be available from the end of October 2006.

    The World Federation for Mental Health organises World Mental Health Day each year.




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