Liadh for President
Liadh for President

Blog: Mental health and wellbeing are precious and must be cherished.

Every day brings its own challenges and nowhere was this more prevalent than during the mental health delegation which I hosted yesterday in Brussels. Forty people, from different backgrounds, voluntary groups, activists, practitioners, fundraisers, clinicians, researchers and therapists, all gave freely of their time to express their huge concerns about mental health issues in Ireland.

It was an eye opener for this MEP and what struck me most of all was the dedication, compassion and empathy that each and every one who attended had in abundance. They represented those who are ultimately failed by the state on every level. They are the real unsung heroes who try to do one of the most basic of all human instincts which is to save a life.

When we talk about mental health we are not only talking about depression, self-harm or suicide. It is far wider than that, it is about our emotional state and how we embrace it. We as public representatives need to lead by example and talk about our own stresses, we have to be comfortable putting up our hands and saying ‘yes I get stressed out, yes I get overwhelmed by the pressures of life, yes I get panic attacks,yes I have bad dark days, and yes I need help occasionally during those times when I am snowed under’.

But of course we never say these things publicly for fear it is seen as a sign of weakness. What message are we sending out by not speaking out? We are simply endorsing the whole perception of the stigma that exists about mental health. For me it is a reassuring signal of our humanity to be able to embrace the human condition as it were, it is a vital ingredient that all politicians should have if we are to serve those people who put us in these privileged positions in the first place.

We have opened the door with the marriage equality referendum, and it’s now time we open the Pandora’s box and talk openly about our mental health.

This Government failed our most vulnerable again by cutting 15 million from mental health services last year. They are banking on communities to shoulder the responsibility of saving lives without putting proper support structures and funding in place. In Sinn Féin we are committed to helping all those unsung heroes to collaborate, to come together, to help and share experiences and most of all to facilitate a movement, a real movement of change for mental health based on a bottom up, holistic approach and person-centred.

And so as I wait in Brussels airport for the first leg of my journey home, I can safely put my hand up and say ‘yes it was a stressful few days but thankfully my mental health is in a good space, I recognise of course that I am in the lucky and privileged position of having great support around me and that makes all the difference. A chairde bí buíoch do gnéithe maithe i bhur saol agus tuagaimís aire dá chéile.

If you feel the need to talk to someone about your own mental health, or the mental health of a friend, colleague or loved one please visit to access a list of support organisations

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