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23rd Feb 2016

COMMENT: Three questions to ask canvassers to put mental health on the agenda

Paddy McKenna

We need to put mental health on the agenda.

We’ve known for too long now that the message isn’t getting through to politicians.

The family of Caoilte O Broin have had their hearts broken saying it and the people who showed up at the #AnyonesBrother vigil at Leinster House shouted it out loud.

Mental health advocates like musician Niall Breslin are banging their heads against the brick walls of political indifference because, until Cat O’Broin’s appearance on RTÉ2’s Facebook Election Special on Sunday night, it hasn’t been a live election issue.

Recent analysis by Newstalk 106fm showed that the ‘big four’ – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and Sinn Féin – have a grand total of just TWO pages dedicated to the issue in their respective manifestos that run to a combined length of 459 pages.

That is less than a half of 1 per cent.

The word ‘suicide’ appears just FIVE times in those 459 pages.

Three times in Sinn Fein’s manifesto, twice in Fianna Fail and NOT ONCE in Fine Gael and Labour’s manifestos.


Figures obtained from CSO via Pieta House

Speaking to JOE, Bressie explained that he reckons that political hopefuls are being advised to skirt the issue.

“I feel for the candidates – they are being advised to say nothing,” he said.

“It’s the lesser of two evils. Saying the wrong thing is worse than not saying anything.

“Hand on heart, I don’t think they understand the issue. A prominent politician asked me a few weeks ago what ‘talk therapy’ was.”

With just under three days to go and the electorate making up their minds, there’s still time to quiz canvassers and ask what their policies are on mental health.

In association with Mental Health Reform, we’ve compiled three basics questions to ask any government hopeful who might call at your door or stops you on the street.Mental health Quesionaire

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