All posts by actionmentalhealth

AMH Promote – Launches Life Alert

Special guests join the Life Alert team to raise awareness

The Project “Life Alert” was launched at event in AMH Promote with special guests including, Lady Sylvia Hermon MP, Peter Weir MLA, Councillor Anne Wilson, representatives from the PSNI and DPP and the Life Alert team.

 AMH Promote is a training centre in Conlig run by AMH (Action Mental Health) which teaches adults with learning disability to be more independent and to train for job placements in the community.

 The project “Life Alert” began about three years ago to raise awareness of Learning Disability within the local community.  Who better to raise awareness than those with learning disabilities, speaking about the problems and difficulties they face to a range of small audiences including, school children and teachers, student social workers, District Policy Partnerships, local councillors, and more recently new citizen advocates.

The group consists of Martin Mahood, Hilary Gammon, Louise McBride, Alan Webster, Josie Morton and Sarah Johnston.  They are all supported by Elizabeth Lightbody (Bryson House Advocacy Service).

 The clients from AMH Promote came up with the name “Life Alert” as it represents the important point they want to get across; they want everyone around them to be alert to those living with a learning disability, they want them to be sensitive to their needs and to just to give them some thought and consideration.

 Working in partnership with the PSNI and in particular Ken Butler, “Life Alert” made its debut at South Eastern Regional College in Bangor, and since then the group have grown in confidence. Much of the content of these informal meetings is a question and answer session. This has proven to be the best way of involving the audience in the discussion and raise their knowledge of Learning Disability especially amongst school children.

 Some of the topics covered have included the range of difficulties our clients can face in their community in particular, bullying, housing issues, and accessing community services.  They have also helped their audiences understand their disability and what it is like to have a Learning Disability.  They have talked about how the community can help them and what upsets them.  Our clients have discussed equal opportunities and how they want to have the same rights as everyone else, for instance, the chance to go to college.

 The Group has put together a number of “Life Alert” wallets to be handed out when they visit businesses, shops and centres.  The wallet consists of contact information for individual.  Posters have been distributed to promote the project.  Adults with a Learning Disability in the Bangor area can be reassured that when visiting a shop or public place displaying the “Life Alert” poster that they are somewhere where staff are sensitive to their needs and have an understanding of their disability.  Those who sign up to Life Alert are supporting the government’s strategy to promote social inclusion for all those with a learning disability.

So if someone presents a “Life Alert” wallet to you, please take a moment to read the information, everyone should feel valued and part of their own community. Everyone deserves respect and understanding.

You can contact the Life Alert group at AMH Promote T 028 9127 5953. 

You can also download a copy of the Life Alert Poster.

VOTE win Best Trade Prize

Our VOTE clients have been operating a mini-business in the last few weeks in which they produced a wonderful selection of Christmas logs and cards.  On 9th December they took part in the Young Enterprise Trade Fair at The Outlet in Banbridge and, in addition to selling most of their stock, they were awarded the Best Trade prize from the Young Enterprise Scheme for the Southern region and the team were presented with a gift voucher.

Staff and clients are delighted as there was some serious competitions from local schools!!! Well done to all involved!! 

Mental Health and Employment

AMH Action Mental Health held their Annual Tughan Lecture to observe Mental Health Day at Malone House.  The Tughan Lecture was established in memory of a founder of AMH, Fredrick Charles Tughan, CBE, and is sponsored by the Tughan Trust.

Professor Bob Grove

Our speaker this year was Professor Bob Grove.  Bob is Joint Chief Executive of the Centre for Mental Health in London.  He has written widely on disability and employment issues.  The title of the lecture was “Mental Health and Employment – putting evidence into policy and into practice.”

1 in 6 of us will suffer some form of mental illness at some point in our lives, it can strike anybody at any time and it can be even more devastating when it forces us to take a lengthy absence from work.  Yet work is not only central to most people’s lives, it has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health.  Work provides us with an opportunity to put some routine and stability into our lives and to regain our sense of self-esteem.  Research has found that four out of ten unemployed people have mental health problems but many would like a job.

Bob began talking about the evidence of what works, “We know from international experience and research how to offer effective support to enable people with mental health problems to work.  Large numbers of people have and can be supported to secure and maintain competitive employment through Individual Placement and Support (IPS). IPS has seven key principles, each of which is needed for the service to work well.  They include focusing on paid employment of an individual’s choice, not sheltered work or lengthy job preparation, and support that continues once the person gets a job and that is provided together with clinical care and welfare benefits advice.” Bob then continued by referring to a number of trials which have taken place throughout the world.  It is clear that IPS is effective.  Bob appealed to those decision makers in the audience, “Supporting people with mental health problems into employment should be a top priority for health and social care providers and commissioners”. Bob talked about the South West London & St George’s Mental Health Trust – who have adopted the IPS approach and have produced positive results.  However there are still barriers which need to be overcome.  Employment is still not considered a priority for mental health services, or seen as a realistic goal for people who have experienced mental health problem.

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer is welcomed by David Babington CEO AMH

Bob left the audience with a lot to consider and think about, he ended the lecture by acknowledging the work of AMH. The opportunity to work is recognised by AMH as an integral part of recovery and of treatment for mental ill health.  AMH through our Employment Programmes, have been helping people along the road to recovery from mental ill health back into the workplace for many many years.  In the current economic climate this is proving particularly difficult, but we continue to form strong relationships with local employers who support our work and we continue to give our clients the skills and the self belief that they can work and they can compete in the job market.

For more information about Bob’s work see

A copy of Bob’s slides are available here.

John McCallister MLA checks out the new AMH Website

World Mental Health Day is a global mental health education project of the World Federation for Mental Health and is commemorated in over 100 countries each year on 10 October.

Well Done Craigavon and Banbridge!

AMH New Horizons Craigavon & Banbridge had lots to cheer about at their recent annual award ceremony. This event takes place every year in the week of World Mental Health Day, and this year they also celebrated obtaining the Government’s prestigious Customer Service Excellence Award.  

 AMH New Horizons offers people with mental health needs the opportunity to improve their skills, qualifications and experience through their involvement in a wide range of training, work preparation and personal development programmes. 

 With an audience of special guests including Deputy Mayor Of Craigavon Borough Council, Cllr Kieran Corr;  Fionnuala McAndrew, NI Health & Social Care Board, Director of Social Care and Children; AMH Chief Executive David Babington; Ian Sutherland Southern HSC Trust, Assistant Director of Mental Health Services; AMH staff and family and friends; certificates were presented to those who successfully completed courses in a variety of subjects ranging from horticulture, personal development, business administration, information technology and occupational skills.    

Our Staff Team receive the Customer Service Excellence certificate from Fionnuala McAndrew, NI Health & Social Care Board

“We are very proud of our clients” said Colin Loughran, Service Manager, “the range of certificates of achievement and the variety of qualifications are an inspiration to us all. This event is also an opportunity to promote the work of  AMH and the impact we are making to the mental health and well-being of those in our community.  I would like to acknowledge the generous support we receive from the Southern HSS Trust, the European Union and DEL”.

David Babington, AMH’s Chief executive said, ‘This is a great day and the achievement of the CSE award demonstrates our commitment to a client focused service and it is well deserved by a staff team who are so creative, innovative and responsive to service improvement.  It also provides a very reassuring message, validating our service, for anyone in the community who may be considering coming to New Horizons.  I am very proud that our hard work, and dedication, has been recognised.”  

Managing Mental Health Conference

AMH Action Mental Health, are holding a conference on the 3rd November, in the Canal Court Hotel in Newry.  The conference is aimed at local employers and will provide an introduction to mental health conditions, the impact on the workplace, dealing with distress, supporting presence of staff and managing absence.

Anxiety, depression and stress are estimated to be the cause of more working days lost than any other work-related illness. Covering absent workers adds more pressure. Sick pay reduces profits. Loss of valued and talented people costs more than money.

With the right support, people with mental health issues can and do stay in work. With the right support, you can continue to deliver your business

Increasing mental health awareness among your employees enhances the delivery of your business and the service you provide. Line managers often feel unsure about how to support colleagues who experience depression, anxiety and other mental health problems and staff interacting with customers may not know how best to deal with those who have such difficulties. Increasing awareness of mental health among your managers and staff will improve the service you provide, and demonstrate that you, as an employer, support your staff.

Speaking at the conference will be Dr Mike Smith, a mental health professional with 26 years international experience and his colleague Marion Aslan, a Director of crazydiamond mental health training and consultancy,

Rosie Smyth from AMH said, “this is a great opportunity to discuss the issues local employers face when dealing with mental health in the workplace, it is hoped they will gain some useful advice and be able to put that knowledge into practice.  Events like this are also key to highlighting the prevalence of mental ill health and challenging the stigma that continues to surround it”


The event is free and is open to anyone with responsibility for staff welfare, places are limited, for more information contact

This is event is supported by Department of Employment & Learning  and The European Social Fund