Mental Health – a priority for a People’s President
We have seen in recent years an ever growing understanding of the importance of mental health and the nature of mental illness. An essential part of this process has been the gradual breaking down of the age-old stigma that has been so wrongly attached to people with mental health problems.
A key priority for me as President will be to help accelerate that process of de-stigmatisation by engaging directly with people affected by mental illness, for whom I will make Áras an Uachtaráin a welcoming place.
I will begin a national conversation on mental health. Key aims of this national conversation will be:
- To remove the stigma attached to people with mental health issues.
- To end discrimination on the basis of mental illness.
- To end inequality as experienced by those with mental health issues.
- To emphasise that mental health is the concern of all, not just those directly affected by mental illness.
- To stress that a hugely important part of the effort to achieve national economic recovery is to roll back the dire effects of the recession on the health and well-being, including mental health, of many of our people.
- To help reduce the terrible toll of suicide in our society.
The scope of the national conversation will be:
- Direct dialogue between the President and all relevant stakeholders.
- Raising the profile of mental health in our education system and in the workplace.
- Encouraging greater awareness of mental health at community level across the country.
- Encouraging debate and information in the media.
While the President does not have a policy-making or executive role he or she is a guardian of the rights of citizens and of the Constitution. That will be my guide and I will take my inspiration also from the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil Éireann which states:
“It shall be the duty of the Republic to take such measures as will safeguard the health of the people and ensure the physical as well as the moral well-being of the nation.”
Arising from these principles I will encourage
- The development of an All-Ireland approach to mental health issues and services.
- Adherence to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to World Health Organisation recommendations on mental health services.
- The development and promotion of suicide prevention strategies.
- Actions to assist individuals at risk of suicide.
- Actions to assist people bereaved through suicide.