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Mental Health

Although somewhat dated now, there is evidence of long term illness relating to common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety being prevalent among the Irish community.

The Count Me in Census from 2005 –2010 repeatedly demonstrated excessive admissions to mental health establishments of Irish people in age groups above fifty. 

The same censuses demonstrate that a significant proportion of those admissions also have a level of physical disability.


Suicide levels in the Irish community have remained consistently high for Irish people for over three decades and have not shown the decline seen in other populations. 

Although not specifically stated in relation to the Irish, poor mental health, socio–economic and cultural factors are common risk factors for suicide. Mental ill–health and suicide are particular issues for Irish Travellers in addition to their low life expectancy and poor health profile.

If you have suicidal thoughts or are concerned about someone who might have, please contact ICAP – an organisation that provides counselling and support services.


Alcohol is a sensitive issue in the community, with evidence of high rates of abstinence and also dangerous patterns of consumption. Irish in Britain work with member organisations to promote safe drinking, and alcohol reduction strategies which are sensitive to the meaning and role of alcohol in Irish culture.

Top 5 tips to give up smoking

We want to help you or someone you know give up the big bad cigarette.

Did you know that nearly 70 percent of smokers die from smoking–related problems? 

You know it’s time to pack it in but you haven’t nipped it in the butt yet, not to worry, here are five tips to help you:

1) Find your motivation to quit

Most people have to want to give up before actually making it happen, so find that motivation. Maybe it’s the reluctance to see your children grow up thinking it’s normal to smoke, the ugly consequences of your lungs if you don’t stop, or the risk of the killer heart disease. If you’re a man maybe it’s the risk of erectile dysfunction and if you’re a woman perhaps it’s the negative impact on fertility. Or maybe it’s the risk of not being around for your children one day. 

Or perhaps it’s simply that you want to be healthy, or you want to train for a marathon.

Finding that motivation, that thing that pulls on your heart strings will usually give you enough emotional juice to want to make some the change. It all starts with the desire.  

2) Set a quit date

Think about a time coming up when you’re more likely to be in a happy mood. Studies have found that quitting while you’re in a good mood works wonders.

Put the date in your phone as a reminder. 

In the lead up to the date be firm and keep reminding yourself of your motivation to quit. Write it down on a postcard read it whenever you have a moment of complacency. Visualise your motivation.

Tell your friends and family your intentions, in other words make yourself accountable to them as well as yourself.

If you find that you’re not in a peak state on your quit date, get yourself into your peak state by doing something that makes you happy (That doesn’t include smoking!). Listen to music, dance, exercise, play sports, see your positive friends, meditate.

3) Write down a list of reasons why quitting might be hard 

Be real. Be raw. Is it the nicotine? Your stressful work life? Kids? The fact you enjoy it too much? Maybe it’s something you love to do with your friends or with a beer, write the reasons down.

4) Find the quit–smoking mechanisms that are likely to resonate with you most

It’s possible that the reasons in your list above will indeed be challenging, but you have the control to stay on track and we don’t want anything getting in the way of your goal. So decide which mechanisms you’ll have in place to negate every item on your list.

Maybe it’s a Nicorette chewing gum for the fight against those nicotine cravings, or even an apple.

Here’s a few of our faves to help you fight those withdrawal symptoms:

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):

NRT has low levels of nicotine without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke. They come in various forms which you can get from your GP or a local pharmacy, such as:

  • skin patches
  • chewing gum
  • inhalators (which look like plastic cigarettes)
  • tablets, oral strips and lozenges
  • nasal and mouth spray 

Or maybe the following may suit you better:

*E–cigarettes: an electronic device that delivers nicotine in vapour form eliminating most of the harmful effects of smoking. This option has no tar or carbon monoxide.

For nicotine–free options you could try:
*Allen Carr’s easyway methods that have worked on many people
*Hypnotherapy:See the NHS Choices website for more information on how the power of suggestion can help break long term habits such as smoking.
*Distracting your mind with other things that make you happy such as exercising, hanging with friends that don’t smoke and dancing.

    Going cold turkey without a mechanism in place may be a bit harder, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Do what you truly feel will work best for you.

    5) Switch to decaf

    Without the nicotine in your system, your body will deplete caffeine a lot less and so having too much of it may cause you the jitters. Instead try caffeine–free herbal tea, a fresh green juice or even a glass of milk, which is said to help reduce the cravings. 

    See 10 foods and drinks that can help you stop smoking by the Daily Meal for some more helpful advice. 

    Bonus tip: Once you’ve stopped smoking resist the urge to start again

    It’s easy not to resist going back to cigarettes when you smell the tobacco smoke, your friends pressurise you into joining them or when you’re feeling stressed. Get mechanisms ready for those urges so that you can kick the habit in for good such as munching on fruit, exercising regularly and getting used to saying: “I don’t smoke, see you when you get back”

    Most importantly, hang in there. Smoking is an addiction, but like with any addiction, with the right resources and support you can overcome it. It takes time and belief in yourself and there are millions of people have proven it’s possible.

    If you start smoking again, don’t be hard on yourself, just try to quit again. Some people have to try 8 times before finally quitting.

    More information

    See the NHS Choices live–well programme for more advice on giving up smoking.

    If you’ve given up smoking, how did you do it? What was your biggest challenge? We’d love to hear your success story and tips! Tag us @irishinbritain on twitter.