Doyle calls for Long Term Solutions to Tackle Mental Health Awareness:
Fianna Fáil local election candidate for Greystones James Doyle is calling for more “long term solutions to improve Mental Health Awareness”. Together with several of his friends, he participated in this year’s Darkness into Light 5km walk/run on Saturday 10 May, an annual initiative raising awareness of suicide. Mental health has long been a cause that is close to his heart. Although this year was the inaugural Wicklow leg of the national event, he has taken part in the walk every year since 2011.
“As a young person I am very concerned about mental well being particularly in light of youth unemployment. I have seen many friends struggle with the sense of isolation that often comes with unemployment. Other friends have emigrated and I too have been forced to work abroad. I have seen first-hand the effects on families and friends – for parents the concern is often acute. Some people take to emigration like a duck to water but for many others the transition is not so seamless. Social media and Skype can help young people keep in touch with home, but that isn’t always enough.”
Doyle, a young solicitor and former student representative, pinpoints youth education, development and employment as the missing link in the Government’s strategy to get Ireland back on its feet.
“Everyone knows employment opportunities remain thin on the ground for the under-35’s, we also know that a ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past. What we don’t necessarily appreciate is the toll these changed realities take on our mental health. We have seen a rise in youth mental health problems which I feel is intrinsically linked to the lack of employment.”
Doyle acknowledged that “there is no easy solution”, but he is encouraged by the community spirit displayed by people affected by and concerned with mental health. “In recent months I have listened to the concerns and experiences of young people who feel confident enough to share their story with me. They will tell you that while many people suffering will reach out to someone close or seek professional help many others will not. We need to do more to help these young people.
Groups such as CASPER and PIETA HOUSE continuously underscore the need to address mental health when I attend their meetings and I participate in their awareness campaigns. It’s one thing to read statistics, it’s quite another to hear a mother speak openly about the loss of her child to suicide.”
Doyle continues that he is “delighted to support SEE CHANGE in their month long national Green Ribbon Campaign to get people talking openly about mental health problems in May 2014. The aim is to make the month of May every year synonymous with promoting open conversation of mental health and challenging the stigma of mental health problems. Just like the pink ribbon has become a powerful symbol for breast cancer awareness, the lime green ribbon will become the international symbol for challenging the stigma of mental health problems. I will be wearing the ribbon with pride throughout the month of May, and I urge everyone to participate in the National Time to Talk Day on Friday May 16th by simply making the time and space for conversation about mental health with family, friends and colleagues”.
Doyle pledges to continue making the case for greater awareness of, and investment in, mental health services: “I will do all I can to seek out ways in which the experience of community groups, insights of family and friends and perspectives of those affected by social or economic hardship can be combined with available resources to improve awareness and support.”