AMH toasts a year of successes despite the uncertainty of life in Covid times

Like the previous year, Action Mental Health, in 2021, delivered its diverse range of services to clients in innovative ways to accommodate the ‘new normal’ of Covid restrictions.

And though regular services have yet to fully return to that of pre-pandemic times, Action Mental Health has continued to support people living with mental ill health and to promote well-being throughout the community to people of all ages.

Action Mental Health marked various successes and progress throughout the year, with the announcement of Ten Year Mental Health Strategy, a long-awaited pinnacle, following years of determined campaigning by the charity.

The Strategy was announced as the key to setting the future strategic direction of mental health services in Northern Ireland. The much anticipated new way forward was welcomed by AMH Chief Executive, David Babington, who recognised the mammoth task of bolstering local mental health services. “We know the size of the challenge that we face and the publication of the strategy is only the first step on a long road to help build better mental health for all, across Northern Ireland.”

The year also witnessed the launch of Action Mental Health’s latest mental health and well-being programme – Healthy Heroes, a year-long initiative for P7 children. Healthy Heroes aims to help 10 and 11 year olds cope with the transition from primary on to secondary level education. Healthy Heroes addresses anxiety, stress and managing changes, self-esteem, courage, confidence, learning differences and friendship.

Karen Hillis and Rachel Horner from AMH MensSana team launch Healthy Heroes with the pupils from St Bernard’s Primary School, Newtownabbey

The launch of Action Mental Health’s latest Impact Report revealed the extensive reach of the charity’s services, throughout the pandemic. It showed that 20,861 people benefitted from AMH Resilience Services ¬– across community and school settings and individuals. A further 1422 clients were aided through their journey back to better mental health at the charity’s recovery services, AMH New Horizons, where 1504 accredited training outcomes were achieved and 98 clients progressed to paid employment, voluntary work or further education/training.

The report highlighted the significant benefits of AMH New Life Counselling’s services, with 12,776 counselling sessions offered to 2,714 individuals and families.

Action Mental Health continued to make a valuable contribution to the Covid Wellbeing online hub, set up in 2020, offering tips and advice on a range of issues from anxiety and depression, dealing with stress while working from home, to tackling the stigma attached to mental ill-health issues.

Autumn also marked developments in ChatPal – a multi-national project aimed at providing mental health support in rural areas in parts of northern European periphery and Artic areas (NPA) – with further progress on a multi-lingual Chatpal App. The developments mean that Chatpal, a chatbot service driven by artificial intelligence, to be available to people via an app on their mobile phones, became available in English, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish and Finnish. Chatpal began with pilot trials in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Sweden and Ireland to support the mental health and digital mental health requirements of older and younger citizens in rural and sparsely populated NPA regions.

Our Generation, the partner project which supports young people affected by the legacy of Northern Ireland’s Troubles on both sides of the border in Ireland, brought the year to a close with the launch of the inaugural Transgenerational Trauma Awareness Day, on December 15.

And of course, the vital work of Action Mental Health wouldn’t be as affective and impactful without the valuable help of a vast band of loyal fundraisers and corporate supporters.

Local firms which have contributed to the success of Action Mental Health by their generosity, include: SDC Trailers, Cranswick Foods, Mash Direct, Halifax, Outsource, Coca Cola HBC, Gordons Chemists, CTS, Portman Health Care, Victoria Square, The Law Society of Northern Ireland, Terry Bradley Art, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Ozz Bands, LoughTec, NI Jobs, Cancom, Datactics and the Construction Employers Federation.

Within the community, individuals, groups, people of all ages and from all walks of life have traipsed miles across the country, run marathons, scaled tall buildings and a carried out a whole host of other activities – inspiring and meaningful – to raise money for Action Mental Health’s vital services. And all in the uncertain times of the pandemic.

To them and all our supporters, volunteers and funders we would like to extend heartfelt gratitude for pulling out all the stops to raise money for the cause of mental health in Northern Ireland.

We hope you all get to have some time off over the festive period and we can’t wait to see you again in the New Year!

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