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Mental health patients 'shunned''

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Amnesty International's Irish director Colm O'Gorman has said the extent of mental health discrimination should be investigated

Amnesty International's Irish director Colm O'Gorman has said the extent of mental health discrimination should be investigated

Amnesty International's Irish director Colm O'Gorman has said the extent of mental health discrimination should be investigated

Nearly all mental health patients have been treated unfairly because of their condition, a survey has revealed.

A report by Amnesty International said it had uncovered uncomfortable truths, stigma and hidden prejudice affecting people in work, at home and among friends.

Colm O'Gorman, Amnesty's executive director in Ireland, called on government agencies to investigate the true extent of the problem.

"Unlike racism, sexism or ageism, there is no '-ism' to describe discrimination on the grounds of mental health. It remains the hidden, permissible '-ism', but it must be challenged," he said.

He added: "In Ireland there is no clear evidence of overt direct discrimination by the state in its laws, policies or practices. The real issue however is the hidden, indirect discrimination and inequality people face.

"We know that people with mental health problems have lower employment rates and are more likely to have left education early, suggesting the reported unfair treatment from the research is having a very real impact on people's lives."

Dublin City University's School of Nursing interviewed 300 patients on behalf of Amnesty and found devastating levels of discrimination and prejudice and a lack of care across society.

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A total of 95% of participants reported unfair treatment because of a mental health problem and subsequently 86% suffered distress. Almost two thirds were shunned because of a mental health problem and 61% reported being treated unfairly by family.

On the employment front, 43% said they were treated unfairly when it came to keeping a job, a third felt unfairly treated in applying for work and as a result two thirds decided not to apply for work.

The Amnesty report, Hear my voice: challenging prejudice and discrimination, was published as part of the organisation's mental health and human rights campaign.


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