Why We're Doing it

The statistics around mental ill health in Northern Ireland are stark. 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health problem each year with rates in NI estimated to be around 25% higher than elsewhere in the UK. With the right support, people with mental health problems can and do recover to live full lives.

However we still live in a culture of silence around mental health and much of the facts and realities surrounding it are widely misunderstood. These misconceptions breed stigma and discriminationthat undermine an individual’s ability to participate in society, to feel connected and able to seek support.

Our research has shown generally positive attitudes towards mental health in NI in terms of tolerance and lack of blame towards people experiencing mental illness. However, there are persistent attitudes of fear, uncertainty and exclusion, coupled with a reluctance amongst those experiencing mental illness to self-disclose to begin their journey to support.

  • Over 13% believed locating mental health services within a neighbourhood downgraded a residential area
  • 7.1% would not want to live next door to someone who is mentally ill
  • Only 37% of people felt that women who have been in a mental health hospital could be trusted as babysitters.
  • Only 70% of people believe that people with mental illness are far less of a danger than most people suppose 
  • Over 15% of people believed that anyone with a  history of mental health problems should be excluded from public office

In comparison to England, Scotland and Wales where anti-stigma campaigns have been running for years (2002 in Scotland, 2007 in England and 2012 in Wales) anti-stigma work in Northern Ireland has been fragmented.

Our ambition is to create a cohesive, collaborative and community-driven awareness campaign that will

  • Positively change attitudes and behavior towards people with mental ill health in Northern Ireland across all communities and areas of society;
  • Reduce discrimination that people with mental health experience and the stigma around discussing mental health problems.
  • Empower people with mental ill health to tackle discrimination and play an active role in their communities by giving them a confident voice and a platform to be heard.