Stigma in Ireland – people with mental health problems are less intelligent

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The results of a survey carried out by St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin involving a total of 240 participants shows that stigma is still very much attached to mental health problems and what’s more, around a quarter of people who took part in the survey said that they believed people suffering from mental health problems were of below average intelligence.

Incidentally, many studies have shown the exact opposite to be true, that people suffering from mental disorders such as bipolar, are often of above average intelligence.

One such study by James H Macabe Senior Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, and his colleagues revealed that youngsters who excelled at school were at an increased risk of developing bipolar. This study was published in the February 2010 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Anyway, shockingly, nearly half of the respondents in the Dublin survey (45 percent) said that they would not be willing to accept someone with a mental health problem as a close friend.

Other findings included 65 percent who said they would not want to hire someone who had a mental health problem and 37 percent said that receiving treatment for mental health issues was a sign of personal failure.

“It is a sad fact that because of this stigma, many sufferers feel embarrassment and shame and are reluctant to seek appropriate supports. Our findings echo those of the national anti-stigma ‘See Change’ survey carried out recently and show the vital necessity for the kind of anti-stigma campaign that ‘See Change’ is running” Irish Health quotes Paul Gilligan, CEO of St. Patrick’s as saying.

What’s interesting about stigma is that it still persists despite mental health problems being extremely common.

Irish Health also reported that that survey results showed that more than half of the respondents said that a close member of their family had been treated for a mental health problem, 60 percent said a close friend had been treated, and 51 percent said they had worked with someone who had received treatment for a mental health problem.

“See Change” is an attempt to combat this sort of stigma in Ireland. It is a new partnership to challenge discrimination associated with mental health problems and to bring about positive change in public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems.

Judging by the results of the Dublin survey, they’ve got a real challenge ahead of them.

Learn how I beat Depression


  1. Nicola Edwards
    Posted November 6, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I find it sad that there is still so much stigma towards mental illness, but to be honest these findings do not shock me.

    I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and have faced my fair share of stigma because of my mental illness; so I came up with FYM, a campaign aimed at opening minds to mental illness using art, music, film and culture.

    FYM has a blog on blogspot, and needs support to help fight the stigma. Thank you.

    Nicola E. from Free Your Mind

  2. melissa
    Posted November 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    It is a sad fact, but I can see how this has occurred. If one examines Ireland’s history it has only gained in both political strength and monetary growth. One can therefore not expect the Irish to fully understand the depths of mental illness. In time though, I think Ireland will develop a better understanding of mental illnesses as well as a caring approach to such maladies.

  3. kevin blumer
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    i would not say people with menatal health issues are less inteligent they probably just need a bit more support than others or time i have borderline personality disorder and im no less intelegent im going to uni to do ict degree lack of education to the the people doing the research

  4. Ann Twomey
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing such a good knowledge.Everyone notices changes in their mood from day to day, or even hour to hour. All of us talk about being “a bit depressed” from time to time, but clearly we do not need to seek treatment every time we say this.

  5. ray power
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    depression stigma destroyed my life before i got sick a year ago i had everything a good job that i loved and gave my all to till one day i couldnt take it any more and my sicknes got the better of me and i came out of work and handed in sick certs for depression my boss called my in after i was out for 5 weeks and asked me what is up with me i told him i have depression he siad come one now man to man what is realy up with u and i was to come back as he needed me back how could i tell him after that that 5 weeks ago i try to take my life and i need this time out to get better i went back and it made me worse because i was bullied by staff because i was out and they had to cover my shifts my life has being turnd upside down

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