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IACP Release Results of 2019 General Public Survey: Mental Health and Counselling/Psychotherapy in Ireland: Public Perceptions and Attitudes [11/12/19]

This nationally representative survey was commissioned by the IACP, and carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A) in 2019.

Mental Health and Counselling/Psychotherapy in Ireland: Public Perceptions and Attitudes

In 2019 the IACP commissioned Behaviour & Attitudes to carry out general public survey research in the area of mental health and counselling/psychotherapy in Ireland. We were keen to find out what Irish adults are saying about their own mental health today in terms of stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness as well as their attitudes to mental health in general. We wanted to find out about mental health and stigma - whether it’s more acceptable to talk about mental health issues today and if Irish adults would want others to know if they were struggling themselves. Following on from our previous survey we wanted to know what proportion of Irish adults have been affected by suicide today – amongst relatives, friends/colleagues, neighbours or in the community – as well as the importance of talking about suicide. We also wanted to find out what Irish adults think about counselling/psychotherapy - whether they would they seek this support if struggling in some way themselves and if they think others should seek this support. Furthermore – what do Irish adults think about children and young people in this regard? The results of the survey provide fascinating insights into public perceptions and attitudes towards mental health and counselling/psychotherapy in Ireland today. For more on this see below.

 

Stress, anxiety, depression & loneliness/isolation:

Almost half of Irish adults report feeling stressed (46%), over a third anxious (35%), a fifth depressed (20%) or lonely/isolated (19%) - either often or some of the time. These figures are elevated further for parents of teenagers* – and reduced for those over 65 and ‘empty-nesters’.

1 in 4 Irish adults (24%) report that work is the main cause of stress in their lives – up from 1 in 5 (20%) in 2015. Men, those aged 25-50, Dublin dwellers, those in higher income brackets and those with children are more likely to say that work is their main cause of stress.

Money/debt has decreased as the main stressor since 2015, but it remains the top cause for 1 in 5 (19%). Those aged 25-34, those in lower income brackets and parents of teenagers are more likely to say that money/debt is their main stressor.

Attitudes & Stigma:

The survey findings show that attitudes towards mental health are broadly positive, with almost 9 in 10 (86%) agreeing that it’s more acceptable to talk about mental health issues now, than it was in the past and a similar number 9 in 10 (90%) agreeing that mental health issues are just as likely to affect their family as anyone else’s.

Increased media focus, as well as mental health awareness events, and celebrities speaking out about their issues, are perceived to be the main contributors to it being more acceptable to talk today.

However, almost 3 in 10 Irish adults (28%) believe that it is not as easy to talk about mental health issues, as it is to talk about physical health issues today. Furthermore, personal disclosure is a perceived area of difficulty for a notable proportion – 3 in 5 Irish adults (60%) say they would find it difficult to speak to an employer about a personal mental health issue, and almost the same number (57%) say they would not want other people to know if they were experiencing a mental health issue. These figures are elevated further amongst those who live in Dublin.

3 in 5 Irish adults would not want others to know they have a mental health issue.

This survey has found the majority of Irish adults would not want others to know if they were experiencing a mental health issue, and would find it difficult to speak to an employer about it – despite positive attitudes towards mental health being more broadly discussed.

The results provide crucial/interesting insights into people’s experience of mental health issues, as well as their coping strategies and their attitudes in this area more generally.

Counselling/Psychotherapy:

92% of Irish adults think that it’s a good idea to seek Counselling/Psychotherapy if struggling with mental health.

 

However, over 1 in 4 (26%) would see ‘affordability’ as a potential barrier to seeking such help. In line with this, the results overall show that there is very strong support for state funding of Counselling/Psychotherapy in Ireland – with almost 9 in 10 (86%) agreeing with this.

Talking & Exercise – Most Common Coping Strategies:

Asked what helpful things they do when feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or struggling in some way, almost half of Irish adults (47%) say they talk to a friend or relative, and almost a third (31%) say they talk to a spouse or partner.

Beyond talking to someone close, talking to the GP is helpful for almost 2 in 5 (38%) and a Counsellor /Psychotherapist for more than 1 in 10 (11%).

Over 1 in 4 Irish adults (28%) say they find exercise helpful when they are struggling and this is elevated to over a third (35%) of those aged under 24.

Other approaches which Irish adults find helpful include meditation/mindfulness (9%), religion (5%) and taking prescribed medication (5%). Less than 1 in 10 (7%) say they ‘do nothing’ that is helpful.

Encouragingly, those who say they often or sometimes feel stressed, anxious, depressed and lonely/isolated are more likely to engage in a variety of activities that they find helpful.

Front Page of General Public Survey - Click Here to View

Click on the image to download the summary of the survey. 

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