January 2019 is a unique edition of the First Fortnight festival. First Fortnight is hosting the European Mental Health Art & Culture Festival. This festival aims to showcase the vibrancy of modern Ireland with an emphasis on the European community resident in Ireland that lives and works together every day.
As it continues to expand, there have been over 140 submissions coming from 22 different countries and this year promises to be better than ever. We are working for an exponential change in how we as people understand and respond to the human challenge of a mental health problem.
We do this every day. In a study of perceived stigma in 815 adults with significant mental health disability across 6 European countries, 46.7% reported embarrassment, and 18% reported discrimination experiences, resulting in 14.8% with perceived stigma (Alonso et al., 2009). Since 2011, First Fortnight has conducted an annual survey to assess the attitudes of festival attendees regarding mental health matters.
Out of the 1,517 people who responded in 2018, almost half (47%) of those surveyed would not want people to know if they were experiencing mental health problems, 28% found it hard to speak with someone with mental health illness and 56% were afraid of experiencing mental health difficulties in the future (Moloney, 2018 First Fortnight Policy Paper; Mental Health and Stigma in Europe).
The challenges Mental Health poses to society are set down in well-established patterns. First Fortnight is here at the beginning of every year to unapologetically disrupt those patterns and ask for more, better and different efforts to address and make better Ireland’s attitude and behaviour when it comes to mental health problems and those that experience them.