This week, as part of the #Covid WellbeingNI partnership, Action Mental Health have been looking at stigma and mental health.
Action Mental Health has been chatting to clients who attend our diverse range of services to gauge how stigma almost stopped them from reaching out for help.
Jackie Booth, 61, was once a high-flying career woman in Switzerland but in later life she experienced issues like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Things got so bad for her she felt like ending it all.
But after rediscovering her better self with the help of Action Mental Health, she is calling on others to seek out and ask for help if they need it – when they need it.
“There’s so much shame and embarrassment attached to mental health and I didn’t seek help early enough so I was a wreck when I arrived at AMH New Horizons,” she admits.
“But everyone, must seek help. Help is out there. There are so many fantastic resources out there to help people and going to AMH New Horizons is a great first step in accessing help in the community.”
“Don’t suffer in silence like me,” urges client Helen from AMH New Horizons Downpatrick, while another client, who availed of the support of AMH New Life Counselling revealed: “The hardest part is picking up your telephone. It took me one month between the time my GP gave me the phone number, after I’d asked for help, and the day I gathered up the courage to ring the number. It is so important to talk.”
Another client who sought and gained help from Action Mental Health’s specialist eating disorder service, AMH everyBODY, said: “I never expected to receive the help I did from my support worker. I have never felt so safe telling a complete stranger my darkest secrets. I finally feel free.”
Another common sentiment shared by the vast majority, if not all, clients of Action Mental Health, is expressed by one man who overcame stigma to take the brave step of reaching out to Action Mental Health to aid their recovery. “Have to say, this place is great: the staff, everything; they are very helpful. People who are there, help everyone, that’s why I go there. We are all treated equally. Respect to all the staff and clients,” he said.
The final word goes to Olympic gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, from Newtownards. Northern Ireland’s most successful gymnast, Rhys, a loyal ambassador for AMH, said: “Bottling things up in your head will not help things at all.”
The Commonwealth and European champion gymnast speaks of the often difficult task of “opening up to someone and talking”. “Bottling things up in your head will not help things at all,” he says, but let’s hear it from Rhys himself…