Why mental health needs public champions not just information…

Siobhan O’Neill is a professor of mental health sciences at Ulster University. She is currently leading several studies on mental health and suicide in Northern Ireland. It seems that we can’t move nowadays with mental health awareness; the latest being Princes Harry and William, and Princess Katherine, all throwing their weight behind campaigns to get people talking about mental health. About time too. With (at least) one in four people suffering from a mental illness at some point in their …

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Mental Health Awareness Week: A Personal Story of Struggle

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW15).  While as a society we become more aware of statistics around the subject and a number of steps have been taken to try to work around stigma and promote messages about recovery, still so often we forget so often about the individual behind the statistic, the loved ones watching on and desperately trying to help but unsure what to do or where to turn to. So here is a blog I have …

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DLA, mental health, and the legacy of the Troubles

The debate surrounding welfare reform in Northern Ireland has gradually seen opinion divide into one of two camps; those who decry any reform of the system as “ruthless Tory cuts”, and those on the other hand who see the swelling ranks of those claiming DLA as evidence that the feckless and workshy are gaining a free ride. The truth is, as ever, somewhat more complex. There is no doubt that the numbers in Northern Ireland claiming DLA are vastly higher …

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The Germanwings tragedy. A personal reflection on mental health problems…

The media are reporting that the recent crash of Germanwings flight 4U92525 was a deliberate act by the co-pilot. Can this be so? Is this possible? Yes. I know no more than you about what happened, or the mental state of the co-pilot. There’s no doubt that similar incidents in the past were related to the mental illness of the pilot. There have been too many ‘single vehicle road traffic collisions’ where it’s abundantly clear that the driver of the …

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My Battle with Anxiety and How I Beat It

This is a soapbox from a person who wishes to remain anonymous, but wanted to share their story about how they dealt with and recovered from an Anxiety Disorder. This is their story I suffer from an anxiety disorder, there I said it. Anxiety can be a difficult thing to admit to. After all, who would willingly admit to suffering from something that the vast majority of the population seem to deal with on a regular basis? But this is …

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Mental health on death row

This winter will mark 53 years since the last use of capital punishment in Northern Ireland. On 20 December 1961 Robert McGladdery became the last man to be hanged in Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol, for the murder of Pearl Gamble. The death penalty for murder was finally abolished in Northern Ireland on 25 July 1973. However, depending on where you live, you can be beheaded for charges of sorcery, stoned for adultery, or hanged for drug smuggling. This is 2014, and …

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