WEEK TO PUT MENTAL HEALTH IN THE FRAME
IT’S WORLD MENTAL HEALTH WEEK AND MARGARET RODDY LOOKS AT EVENTS BEING ORGANISED LOCALLY
DUNDALK POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH FORUM PROMOTES LOCAL EVENTS
Positive Mental Health Week is being promoted locally by the Dundalk Positive Mental Health Forum which is an umbrella group for a number of organisations working within the community providing supports for people with mental health difficulties.
‘ The forum was formed to promote awareness around mental health and the support services which there are to help people,’ explains Derek Pepper of SHINE, which is one of the voluntary groups represented on the forum along with GROW, Dundalk Outcomers, Turas addiction services, Dundalk Counselling Centre, the HSE and the Gardai.
‘Every year we run a few events on the concept of mental health issues and this year our main event is on Wednesday with the opening an art exhibition and talks and discussions.’
The exhibition in the County Muesum will be opened by Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny at 12 noon on Wednesday, and it will be followed by talks on the issue of mental health and stress. That evening there will be an information session on cyber bullying and internet security in the Friary Girls’ School at 7pm.
Ciaran Wynne, a psychologist with the HSE will talk about the importance of stress management while SeeChange ambassador Barbara Brennan will speak of her personal experience of mental health difficulties.
Derek explains that the speakers have been selected so that people can discover the importance of nipping problems such as stress in the bud before it blossoms into an overwhelming weed which can trigger a number of mental health problems and also to realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark life can seem.
‘Stress is a major factor in our lives but it can turn into something more clinical,’ says Derek.
‘Stress can begin in very small ways and it’s something which affects us all. We all difficulties in our lives, be it difficulties a relationship, difficulties at work, financial difficulties, physical health problems, the loss of a loved one, these all contribute to elements of emotional distress. Young people stress under the pressure of going into exams, of going to college, of living away from home for the first time.’
‘We are trying to focus on preparing people to deal with the beginnings of stress, to identify and manage it so that it doesn’t develop into a clinical mental illness.’
He describes SeeChange ambassador, artist and musician Barbara Brennan, who has spoken openly about her own struggle with mental health issues, including attempting suicide as a teenager, ‘as one of the most inspirational speakers I’ve ever heard.’