Sinead O’Connor: ‘When you admit to mental illness, people treat you like dirt’

The singer speaks out in the wake of Robin Williams' suicide

Sinead O’Connor has spoken out about the public’s perception of mental illness and, in particular, the way the media treat women with mental health issues.

Speaking to Sky News, O’Connor made reference to actor Robin Williams’ suicide, praising the compassion shown by the public towards the star but stating that the same attitudes are not shown towards women.

She said: “Coverage of well-known females who have mental illness or suffer from depression is notoriously abusive… Female celebrities get lynched in the street, they get mocked and buffooned.”

Highlighting Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes as examples of female figures in the public eye whose problems have not been adequately respected, O’Connor then went on to explain how the same issues are not faced by men. “When males in the public eye are dealing with the same thing, coverage is much more compassionate as it should be,” she said. “I’ve been through that myself and it’s really appalling.”

She added, “It would be better if people learnt out of this why a man like that would be driven to that. Stigma is the most enormous reason why people go that far. When you admit that you are anything that may be mistakenly or otherwise perceived as mentally ill, you know you’ll get treated like dirt so you don’t tell anybody and that’s why people die.”

O’Connor, who released her tenth LP ‘I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss’ on Monday (August 11), has previously spoken about similar issues.

Following a previous spat with Miley Cyrus, where she wrote an open letter to the young singer encouraging her not to be taken advantage of by the media, O’Connor said the resultant discourse created an “important” dialogue about mental health. “I think what was more important really that came out of the Miley thing was this issue of being able to conversate about how mental health and human rights is now,” she said. “I think she was actually very helpful. I think the two of us, without meaning to, did quite a good job in terms of creating conversation about something really, really important.”