Green Ribbon Month aims to help end stigma and discrimination about mental health

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ON Thursday 1st October, See Change, Ireland’s organisation dedicated to ending mental health stigma, will virtually launch their Eight Annual Green Ribbon Campaign.

The Green Ribbon campaign aims to get as many people as possible talking about mental health to help end stigma and discrimination. By wearing the Green Ribbon – an international symbol for mental health awareness – you show you are committed to influencing positive change

We all have mental health but during these difficult times (Covid-19) it’s more important than ever to look after our mental health.  This October will host the 2020 Green Ribbon Month (usually held in May) encouraging everyone to start a conversation and wear the Green Ribbon to show their support.

Kick-starting this year’s campaign, See Change will hold two virtual launches for Dublin and Cork, with Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Joe Kavanagh, keynote speakers Dr Eddie Murphy, and Colman Noctor, Minister for Mental Health Mary Butler TD, Michael Ryan and Kevin Morrisey of the HSE, Toni Nestor and Teresa Dooley of AIB, and See Change Ambassadors Abigail McDonnell (from Raheny  in Dublin) and Holly Fehily (from Carrigaline in Cork) taking part.

See Change, is, Ireland’s National Mental Health Stigma Reduction Partnership. Funded by the HSE National Office of Suicide Prevention, the partnership is made up of over 100 Irish organisations and 60 ambassadors who work together to open minds about mental health problems, and end mental health stigma and discrimination.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu said, “We know from evidence through the work of organisations like See Change, that speaking out about mental health helps to overturn generations of stigma by shifting outdated attitudes and challenging discrimination. We need to work together to make long lasting positive social change.”

Green Ribbon will run virtual events throughout the month of October which will have an array of different speakers focusing on the workplace, the voices of lived experience, and partners of See Change, on the topics of discrimination, behaviour and societal change. You can find out more about these events on the See Change website and social media throughout the month.

Recent research that was part of a survey launched in early 2020 as a collaboration between See Change and the YOULEAD group, based at NUI Galway. The primary aim of this research is to expand upon existing See Change data collected in 2017 (Millward Brown, K, 2017, p. 7) with a renewed focus on severe and enduring mental illness. Findings included;

  • One out of five people (22%) would conceal mental ill health from their family
  • 78% of people would feel comfortable discussing mental ill health if a friend or family member asked.
  • Over half ( 59%) of people would live with someone with a lived experience of a severe and enduring mental illness.
  • Almost all of the people (94%)  would work with someone with a lived experience of a severe and enduring mental illness.
  • 44% of people would disclose personal experience of a severe and enduring mental illness to their work colleagues.
  • Over a third (36%) of people would disclose personal experience of a severe and enduring mental illness to their human resources department.”

While some of these figures show that people are more open to a conversation about mental health than they were ten years ago, the survey also showed that people did not have a real understanding of severe and enduring mental illness.

Minister for Mental Health Mary Butler TD, said ““At a time when many people are experiencing mental health challenges in the face of Covid-19, it is more important than ever that people feel that they can reach out, to access the services and supports that they need, or simply to talk to family and friends.

“Stigma remains a barrier to recovery for too many people and that is why I wholeheartedly welcome and fully support the Green Ribbon campaign, which has been for many years a symbol of hope to many in helping to start these conversations.” she said.

After last year’s Green Ribbon campaign, 54% of survey participants strongly agreed that it is important to have open conversations about mental health. This is a significant increase compared to just 20% in 2018.

Keynote speaker Dr Eddie Murphy said; “Mental wellbeing at home and in the workplace is helped by having open conversations with family, friends and colleagues, particularly during this difficult time.”

Post Green Ribbon 2019:

  • One fifth of people surveyed said they saw someone wearing a Green Ribbon.
  • Four out of five (80%) of people surveyed as part of a general population survey heard more colleagues in work talking about mental health since the Green Ribbon campaign.
  • 81% of people surveyed were more comfortable in having a conversation about mental health with someone they knew.
  • Over two thirds (69%) of people surveyed heard more family and friends talking about mental health since the Green Ribbon campaign.”

See Change Co-ordinator Barbara Brennan, said of this year’s Green Ribbon, “While many people don’t stop to consider stigma or it’s impact, for some it has been a barrier to leading a regular life; one without prejudice, discrimination and fear.

“Living with an illness is difficult enough, there is no need to add the weight of stigma to someone who is already struggling. Most people feed stigma, unknowingly, by living in fear of how to approach a mental health conversation, and of saying ‘the wrong thing’, Helping people understand that we all have ups and downs, and that by having more open conversations we can end mental health stigma and the burden it places on those who are the most vulnerable in our society, is at the heart of the Green Ribbon campaign.”

Coinciding with the recent launch of See Change and Mental Health Ireland’s Living with Covid 19 Return to Work Guide, this year’s Green Ribbon campaign focuses on the importance of sharing how you really feel.

See Change believe that our country is in need of conversations about mental health now more than ever, and the Green Ribbon has been a symbol of hope to many in helping start those conversations.     

Everyone Can Get Involved

There is still time to order Green Ribbons by emailing [email protected] with your full name, delivery address (including eircode), contact number, email address and ribbon quantity, or by placing an order directly on the website www.seechange.ie .

Alternatively, you can pick up a Green Ribbon during the campaign at your nearby Boots, AIB or Eir stores as a symbol for starting conversation about mental health.

To help show your support for the campaign, See Change have created a downloadable supporters pack, which contains a range of resources such as posters, ribbon photo props, email and social media banners. All the materials in the pack can be printed and shared online. Download the supporters pack here: https://seechange.ie/download-our-supporters-pack-2020/