- 05 Oct 17
In recent times, Ireland has become a much more open society when it comes to mental health - but it wasn’t always thus, to put it mildly…
Nowadays we speak freely of mental health. This is a very good thing. It wasn’t always so. For perhaps seven or eight generations, we were expected to keep a lid on inner turmoils and disturbances; take them on the chin, keep your upper-lip stiff and your back straight.
Much was left unsaid, unexpressed, unrecognised. And there was so much that needed airing and acknowledgement. There still is.
Of course, these things aren’t absolute. Families and communities have found ways to comfort and shelter those in difficulties. But the overarching impression from those eight generations is of numbness, intolerance and repression of both the issue of mental illness and the mentally ill themselves. As the late, great Irish playwright Brian Friel told Peter Lennon in 1964, the “Irish mind has many windows and the blinds are often down.”