Green Ribbon Campaign launched to end mental health stigma and promote conversation

With 43% of people saying they would hide a mental health concern from friends and family, it's time to end the stigma and get talking.

A group of women holding giant green ribbons on the steps of a building
Image: Damien Eagers Media

See Change, the Irish organisation dedicated to ending mental health stigma, has launched the fantastic Green Ribbon campaign to promote a much needed national conversation about mental health in Ireland.

To get behind this incredible campaign and show you are open to starting positive conversations about mental health, make sure to wear a Green Ribbon.

The stigma that can be associated with mental health has meant that many people don’t ask for necessary help, or even talk about their problems with loved ones. Research commissioned by See Change worryingly revealed that 35% of the Irish population have had personal experience of a mental health problem since Covid and that 43% of females are now experiencing higher incidences of mental health problems, compared to just 9% in 2017.

What is very concerning is that almost half of all the people surveyed would consider hiding a mental health issue from their family and friends, with younger people more likely to conceal a mental health difficulty.

See Change Programmes Leader, Barbara Brennan, explained “We are concerned that a significant number of people, particularly young people, still consider that mental health problems should remain hidden. We want to encourage people to talk about their problems.

“For this year’s Green Ribbon, we are focusing on the theme of ‘exclusion’ and how it impacts a person’s mental health. For example, people from marginalised communities with mental illnesses suffer double stigma – the stigma of being associated with the community they are in, as well as the stigma of having a mental health difficulty. We want to eradicate the shame and stigma that these groups still face on a daily basis.”

See Change Ambassador Carrie Déway, aka Michael Verrecchia, shared, “As an out and proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community who also suffers from anxiety and depression, the exclusion I now feel for having a mental illness and wanting to speak out about it freely doesn’t come as easy as you may think.

“Having gone from one closet to another, it’s important that we try to make others feel included so they too do not feel like they are locked away in a mental health closet. Open the conversation and don’t be afraid to wear your past with pride. Because without that past, you wouldn’t be the person you are today. My name is Carrie Déway and I’m a suicide survivor and I’m more than ok with that!”

Minister of State Joe O’Brien, said, “The past 18 months have given us all an experience of what it is to be restricted, to be isolated, to be lonely, to feel fearful, panicked, and maybe overwhelmed at times. One potentially positive thing that has come from the past 18 months is the normalisation of people freely admitting that they were mentally struggling.

“It is vital that the necessary supports are provided in order to foster a culture of social inclusion wherein everyone, no matter their background, feels no shame in asking for help for a mental illness in the same way they wouldn’t feel shame seeking help for a physical illness.”

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland shared, “We all need to take the time to have meaningful conversations and educate ourselves about the different types of mental illnesses. If we all play our part, we will create a more inclusive society, where talking about mental health will become part of our everyday lives.”

To join the mental health conversation, pick up a Green Ribbon in participating Boots stores, Iarnród Éireann stations, AIB branches or Eir stores.

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