Muir secures Council commitment to stamp out mental health stigma

North Down Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir secured unanimous support at the recent North Down Borough Council meeting for his motion to stamp out mental health stigma.

Meeting on Tuesday, February 15, the motion called for Councillors to note with concern current levels of stigma, discrimination and negative attitudes towards people who have experienced mental ill-health.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Andrew Muir said: “The values of a society can be measured by attitudes and support it gives to those who are most vulnerable, who, in addition to the difficulties associated with the mental ill health suffer from stigma and discrimination, social isolation and poverty.

“I therefore feel that it’s important the Council sends a strong message in support of Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health’s Change your Mind – Stamp out Stigma campaign.

“Stigma must be tackled throughout society so that it no longer remains a major barrier to equality, nor impacts on the ability to seek help early and the possibility of recovery. Stigma leads to fear and mistrust against people living with mental illness and their families, prejudice and discrimination with family and friends turning their backs on people with mental illness. With one in four adults experiencing at least one diagnosable mental health problem and only 230 out of 300 who require help visiting their GP need for action is clear.”

Councillor Muir added: “We can all play our role by taking just one of the actions outlined by Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health. Whether its meeting with people who experience mental ill-health to find out what stigma looks like and how people wants it to be addressed or organising an anti-stigma workshop opportunities for action are immense. We can also take action to look after our own mental health or securing commitments to stamp out stigma through motions, debates and questions.

“Personally athletics and fitness is my way to look after my own mental health. I am very grateful to all the Councillors who spoke and voted in support of the motion, together we have taken one small step to an end to the negative attitudes towards people with experience of mental ill-health.”

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