Break down stigma and wear the Green Ribbon!
Today saw the launch of this year’s Green Ribbon Campaign, Ireland’s mental health awareness month. See Change, the National Stigma Reduction Partnership and 90 partner organisations are rolling out the nationwide campaign to simply get people talking openly about mental health problems.
As part of the campaign See Change are asking people to wear the green ribbon and support the movement to spark a national conversation about mental health in the workplace, schools, college campuses, clubhouses, arts venues and even around kitchen tables throughout Ireland.
See Change launched the campaign last year for the first time and it had a phenomenal response nationally. I saw this with my own eyes because I travelled around the country as part of the nationwide tour of Box of Frogs which was part of the campaign last year. See Change hope to make the month of May every year synonymous with challenging the stigma of mental health. Just like the pink ribbon has become a powerful symbol for breast cancer awareness, the lime green ribbon has been established in the U.S. and beyond as the international symbol for challenging the stigma of mental health problems.
The Green Ribbon campaign is simply about raising awareness and challenging the stigma of mental health problems. Green ribbons will be distributed nationwide free of charge and will not be associated with any fundraising activity.
When it comes to Mental Health in Ireland we don’t need further studies, research or statistics to know we have a mental health problem in Ireland. It has been estimated that one in four of the population is affected my mental health problems at any given time. That is 25% of the population. This figure is widely accepted as being just the tip of the iceberg as experiencing mental ill health is a natural part of being human as is experiencing physical ill health. The difference however between physical ill health and mental ill health is stigma. Most people when they fall ill, physically, they will seek professional help by consulting a GP. However, when our mental health is not well most of us still keep it to ourselves and like all health problems if left untreated can lead to severe consequences.
Stigma still exists in Ireland and sadly it stops people from seeking help when they need it the most. Stigma does not discriminate as it can affect anyone. Irrespective of age, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, social economic status or address, stigma can find you. Disturbingly, stigma is invisible and those who are affected by it are compelled to hide it and in many cases do it so well that the people around them are completely unaware until it’s too late. We know where there is silence there is stigma so all we have to do is start the conversation about mental health.
At Newstalk, Ireland’s leading talk radio station, we are passionate about starting the conversation of mental health and its therefore fitting that Newstalk is the official media partner of the Green Ribbon campaign for the second consecutive year. So wear your Green Ribbon and be part of the change by simply wearing the ribbon & changing minds about mental health – one conversation at a time.
For more information go to www.greenribbon.ie