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HRB National Psychological Wellbeing and Distress Survey: baseline results

This report provides a descriptive account of the data from the first National Psychological Wellbeing and Distress Survey (NPWDS).  The report presents data describing psychological wellbeing and distress, self-perceived health status, quality of life, willingness to disclose distressing information and help-seeking for mental health problems in the Irish population. 

Findings showed that one in every seven people reported that they had experienced a mental, nervous or emotional problem in the past year. Women are more likely than men to report having such problems, and almost one in ten people have spoken to their GP specifically about their mental health in the last year.

The survey was conducted over the phone and with a nationally representative random sample of 2,711 adults, aged 18 years and over and living in private households. Half of the participants were female, two out of three were under fifty years of age and 14% were over 65 years of age.

In general, the survey found that more than eight out of 10 people report 'good' or 'very good' mental health, physical health and quality of life, but there are still a significant number of people who experience mental or emotional problems. It is important that this fact is recognised and acknowledged by society so that informal and formal supports required by people experiencing distress are developed.

In the majority of cases, GPs are the first formal point of call for many people with mental health problems. This important role of the GP and primary care network in the assessment and treatment of mental health problems needs recognition. 

The report highlights that there is a need to increase the range of mental health professionals, such as counsellors and psychologists, within the primary care network who can be accessed by GPs. There is also a real need to develop better links between primary and secondary care for mental health so that there is continuity of care for people who need specialised mental health services.

It is suggested that a three level approach is taken to support people experiencing psychological distress:

  • The first is at an individual level; people need to recognise and acknowledge that the problem of psychological distress is a reality in Irish society.
  • The second is at an interpersonal level; people experiencing psychological distress need to use and develop informal supports such as family or friends.
  • The third is at a societal level; efforts must be made to develop community supports, create health promotion and awareness programmes to help address the stigma associated with mental health problems and promote ways to foster better mental health.

A full copy of the report is available in the publications section of the HRB website at

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