New Mental Health Community Initiative in Ballina Co. Mayo
‘Minding Your Mind’
Young people and their families in are being encouraged to help break the cycle of stigma that surrounds mental health problems, in County Mayo over the next couple of months.
The Mind Your Mind initiative, which was successfully launched on Wednesday, 21st September, was started by 21-year-old June Devaney from Ballina. It aims to raise awareness and build a wider knowledge around mental health, the effects of stigma, and suicide prevention.
Her pioneering project has received support from Think Big, which is an initiative created by O2 and the youth mental health charity Headstrong. The launch of this campaign was addressed by Mr. Declan Behan the CEO of the Irish Association of Suicidology, as well Mary Nolan a clinical psychologist in HSE West and members of Choose Life Reach Out and Living Links (two local suicide prevention and bereavement support groups)
June said there was a pressing need for young people and their loved ones to educate themselves on mental illness as it is something which many families are likely to encounter in some form or other. Research has shown that one in every five people in Ireland is living with a mental health issue.
She added: “Many people who live with a mental health disorder will not speak to others about their symptoms, for fear of being, judged, stigmatised, ridiculed and in a lot of cases rejected. Many do not seek help as a result of this, which can lead to isolation and further deterioration, putting them at high risk.
All these feelings and fears are caused by society's reaction to many mental health issues. With knowledge, comes understanding and power. We need to educate ourselves and our children about mental health as much as we do our physical health. We need to become more aware of how common these disorders are. We need to be able to spot early warning signs, how to ask for help and how to help ourselves and others.”
Mind Your Mind aims to highlight services which are available to people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives and offer information about what is available to those in distress.
June said that, unfortunately, sometimes these supports and services didn’t have a loud enough voice. She explained: “We want to speak out publicly, on their behalf to tell ordinary people that they mustn’t suffer in silence and that there are paths out of your problems, even if they are hard to see.”
“Mind your Mind is also keen to help people access training in suicide prevention for those who are interested.”
The campaign launch took place over a whole day, with a number of secondary schools attending a youth conference earlier in the day. The students took part in workshops and discussions to represent the views of young people to a panel of speakers who work directly with youth services. The evening event invited members of the community to explore information stands before hearing and taking part in open floor discussions with the panel members. At the end of the night she launched an “Essential Poster” which highlighted the things to look out for in loved ones as well as helpline contacts.
Presidential candidate and former youth worker Seán Gallagher spoke about the campaign; “I wish to commend the leadership shown by June Devaney in setting up this group. All too often the focus is on physical health but good mental health is just as important. The work done by June and other volunteers in providing support and advice to others is vital and I am confident that will have a very positive impact on individuals, families and the wider community. This kind of community initiative is one that I would like to highlight and celebrate if elected President because I know that June can act as an inspiration to others. “
Further information on the Mind Your Mind initiative should contact the MYM team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0862015265.