Monday 29 May 2017

Election will tell us if we are truly ready to leave the past behind and create a fair and just society

The coming contest is an opportunity to have a meaningful national debate about how we can prioritise our mental health from now on

'We know that the rates of those experiencing mental health difficulties in Ireland have been high over the last number of years and that suicide, self-harm and substance-abuse rates are equally as high' Stock photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
'We know that the rates of those experiencing mental health difficulties in Ireland have been high over the last number of years and that suicide, self-harm and substance-abuse rates are equally as high' Stock photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Paul Gilligan

From a psychological perspective, the forthcoming General Election is perhaps one of the most important since the foundation of the State. The country has come through a metamorphosis since the last election, having experienced one of its greatest economic challenges. Throughout, the mental health and general psyche of the nation have taken a battering.

What this election is going to demonstrate is whether or not the country is on the road to psychological recovery or not. Perhaps the most destructive legacy of the last eight years has been the anger, bitterness and distrust engrained into Irish society generated by the loss, despair and trauma experienced. If we, the public, have not resolved this legacy, this election will be a societal blood sport.

The big question of this election is can we - and are we willing to - work to create a healthy society, a society that is driven by human rights values, a society that wants its citizens to be responsible, happy, content and constructive? Are we ready to learn from and leave our past behind us to create a just and fair society for our children and their children after them?

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