March 28: Councillor’s commendable interview

Cllr Shane Clifford: praised for helping to break depression stigma    Picture by Dave Gaynor
Cllr Shane Clifford’s interview (Limerick Leader, last week) and his sharing of experience of depression is a welcome, enlightening and commendable contribution to the need to open and understand the experience of that one in four of the population which will suffer from a mental health issue in their lifetime. It is especially welcome that more and more community leaders such as Shane, sports stars such as Alan Quinlan and other well known Irish people such as singer Niall Breslin (Bressie), as well as many business people, are prepared to share their difficult experience. The expression of these experiences helps to open up a discussion and create a better understanding of depression.

Cllr Shane Clifford’s interview (Limerick Leader, last week) and his sharing of experience of depression is a welcome, enlightening and commendable contribution to the need to open and understand the experience of that one in four of the population which will suffer from a mental health issue in their lifetime. It is especially welcome that more and more community leaders such as Shane, sports stars such as Alan Quinlan and other well known Irish people such as singer Niall Breslin (Bressie), as well as many business people, are prepared to share their difficult experience. The expression of these experiences helps to open up a discussion and create a better understanding of depression.

It is important, as the silence around the experiences of mental illness inhibits the removal of stigma, which is so necessary. Stigma acts a barrier to people asking for help. Young people in particular delay seeking help for fear of someone else finding out and one in three would hide their mental health problems. It is important for full recovery that early intervention occurs

What is stigma? Stigma is using negative labels to identify people with mental health problems. It has its origins in fear and misunderstanding. Many people hold negative attitudes towards people with such mental health problems. They do not understand the issues involved and they rely on myths and misconceptions.

Negative attitudes that cause the general public to fear, reject, avoid and discriminate those suffering mental illness. Sigma leads others to avoid living, socialising or working with, renting to, or employing people with a mental health problem. It leads sufferers to low self-esteem, isolation and hopelessness.

To eliminate stigma and provide a better understanding of mental illness, to ensure that people seek help early there is need for education of people of an understanding of mental illness. We must be open to discuss it as we do all physical illness. It will all ensure that the services neglected for decades will obtain the necessary resources to introduce a modern mental health service.

It was not easy for Shane Clifford to tell his story He has made a valuable contribution to our better understanding of mental illness and the Limerick Leader is commended for giving his story such prominence.

Dan Neville TD

President, Irish Association of Suicidology

I WOULD like to congratulate Cllr Shane Clifford for being so honest about his personal situation in the interview he did with your newspaper. As someone who has also suffered from depression – and who took a long time to face up to it– I found it inspiring that he would open up in such an honest way.

I know from personal experience that there are so many people facing similar challenges and asking for help is something that nobody should hesitate to do. We need our politicians to set an example and that is exactly what Shane Clifford has done.

Depression is an everyday part of life - always has been. We are all human and we all to look after our mental health. I am glad that Shane has done that for himself and for his family and I am also grateful that he has shared his experience.

MAUREEN CLEARY

RAHEEN, LIMERICK