Healthy Mind

Opinion: gov focus should be on mental health

Whether it be directly or through a family member, friend, or relative, we will all ultimately be affected by a mental health condition.
If our government wants to see any real change in this small island nation of ours, we have to start changing our attitudes and approaches to mental health issues. 
According to the latest figures by the National Suicide Research Foundation, 554 people committed suicide in 2014 alone. This death rate is higher than the death rate for road accidents, lung cancer and house fires combined.
We need our politicians to give us a glimpse of hope. We need to show our young people that there is more to life than finding the answer down the bottom of a bottle or in the bottom of a river. 
It is all too easy to push mental health illnesses aside and insist that the individual deal with it themselves.
Imagine if we did the same for people suffering with lung problems or in need of a kidney transplant. Telling visibly ill people that, ‘we simply do not have the services to deal with this now’ or that ‘there are things you can do to help yourself, you know…’ 
Mental health issues are like any other issue-they will not go away unless we try to solve it. We need to introduce compulsory mental health talks in schools and state funded check-ups by GPs on our mental well-being every year. 
Thousands of people in Ireland alone are suffering and how can our politicians expect us to be a strong and stable nation when its people are not?
I am just one voice urging our next government-whoever it may be-whenever it sits down to discuss possible budget cuts and to lower social spending, to consider the effects it will have on its people.
There are thousands of voices silently wishing the same thing. For themselves or for someone they love. It is only when these wishes are granted, and when these illnesses are acknowledged, that we will begin to see real change.