Find­ing heal­ing by help­ing oth­ers

Jimmy Bon­nell starts mental health sup­port group for youth

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - BY COLIN FAR­RELL THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE BURIN PENIN­SULA, NL

Jimmy Bon­nell of Marys­town, who opened up about his own ex­pe­ri­ence with mental health is­sues ear­lier this year, is us­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence to help oth­ers.

“I have dealt with mental ill­ness silently for years,” he told the South­ern Gazette on Tues­day in a con­ver­sa­tion over so­cial me­dia.

“I know how hard it is, so I just wanted to give oth­ers the chance to have some­one to talk to.”

As a way to help oth­ers and share his own ex­pe­ri­ence, the 19-year-old started a mental health sup­port group for teens age 14 to 18. The group meets every Tues­day at The Merge in Marys­town and every sec­ond Wed­nes­day in Grand Bank at the Pen­te­costal Church at 7:30 p.m.

Bon­nell said dur­ing the meet­ing, par­tic­i­pants take part in a few “on pa­per ac­tiv­i­ties.”

“(There is) a lot of talk­ing by me, hot choco­late and donuts breaks, and a game of pool at the end.”

There is also a youth out­reach worker present dur­ing the meet­ings to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion or as­sis­tance to par­tic­i­pants.

Bon­nell said he re­ceived a lot of sup­port when he came for­ward with the idea for the group.

“The sup­port was out­stand­ing – every­one was will­ing to help,” he ex­plained.

“I be­lieve peo­ple know that sup­port here is at a min­i­mum, so they were happy that some­thing like this came around.”

For Bon­nell, the op­por­tu­nity to help oth­ers who are go­ing through the same chal­lenges he ex­pe­ri­enced “means the world to me.”

“I suf­fered with mental ill­ness for a long time,” he con­tin­ued. “I ruined friend­ships, lost out on op­por­tu­ni­ties to do the things I love, but most of all, lost all my self-es­teem.

“I don’t want oth­ers to feel that way, I took it upon my­self, to be the change I wanted to see.”

FILE PHOTO

Jimmy Bon­nell first spoke openly about his ex­pe­ri­ence with mental health is­sues back in May in a post on so­cial me­dia. Now he is us­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence to help oth­ers.

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