All posts by actionmentalhealth

LDWeek22 – A sit down with AMH Promote Clients

For Learning Disability Week, we sat down with some of our fabulous clients who currently attend in our Promote Service.

We wanted to find out how they are reconnecting with friends and their communities. We also wanted to talk about the issues many people still face after the end of COVID restrictions, like still having to isolate or dealing with poor mental health and anxiety. 

Our AMH Promote Clients chat to us about reconnecting and how Promote helps them.

AMH Promote Visit Titanic Belfast as part of Learning Disability Awareness Week

In their first visit since prior to the Covid-19, AMH Promote visited Titanic Belfast.

All our staff involved with AMH would like to pass on their thanks to Titanic Belfast staff who pulled out all the stops to make our clients welcome, including having a very generous gift pack for all clients.

A huge thank you in particular to Director of Operations, Siobhan Lynch and Communications Officer, Louise Denver.

What Happened?

Anika (right), pictured with clients of AMH Promote

One of our clients Anika L Johnson wanted to share her experience of her visit to Titanic Belfast.

Anika wanted to be an author but was told she couldn’t. Anika however is attending an event in Ballymena next week, where she will be reading a sensory poem she has written. Keep your eye’s peeled for more of her work in the future.

Trip to Titanic by Anika L Johnson

This was our first trip out of Promote since the disaster of Covid. I found it to be an informative experience, especially as it has been a long time since we have left the Promote grounds. I had actually forgotten how that felt; to leave the grounds. It felt strange and unnerving. Thankfully all went to plan, everyone had a good time and the staff in Titanic treated us very elegantly.

Interestingly, I was proved correct on a vital point, if the operating area in the Titanic had not got in the field of the gossiping train, there is every possibility that the disaster would not have happened. As in, the vital information of the ice warnings was not getting through, due to the telecommunications being used for secondary and unnecessary information.

On display in the museum, there were some photos of an extremely lucky clergyman who had departed, before the disaster struck. His photos are taken between Belfast and Southampton, and prove how much luck he really held. They give an interesting look into what the boat was like on its first voyage, before it was ravaged by rust.

There was also an interesting section on deep sea diving, that shows what the ship looks like now. We watched this on the big screen and it made me feel saddened, as the Titanic was a very proud moment for Belfast and so many lost their lives. Anyone who would have survived must have suffered from PTSD, or in terms of the day ‘shell shock.’

I personally enjoyed the section of memorabilia for filmic stories, as it is interesting to see different people take on the disaster. My take is that in all honesty it should not have happened, but as no one can see what lies ahead, they did their best for their time. We now know better and have various equipment to detect these things.

The Titanic building itself is impressive, and is the size of the boat. It took a long time to put together and the work was worth the money they spent, as it is important we learn about our history, especially mistakes as they teach us the most.

I am really looking forward to future trips and now we have had our maiden voyage, I am confident that life will get back to normal! Peace out!

AMH Promote at Titanic Belfast

Double Celebration at AMH Promote Bangor – Assistant Skills Coach Paul Laffey Marks 25 Years During Learning Disability Week

AMH Promote Bangor provides opportunities for adults with learning disabilities, by enabling social activity and offering up a platform to develop new skills in a supportive and engaging environment. Not only is the charity celebrating Learning Disability Week (20-26 June) but its appreciation for the dedicated service of Assistant Skills Coach, Paul Laffey.

Based at Enterprise Road, Conlig, Action Mental Health Promote is a centre that “welcomes people with open arms”, according to Paul, a man happy in his job, an evolving role with the mental health charity spanning 25 years this month.

Since 1995, Paul has embraced various positions, teaching woodwork, then IT and today as one of Promote’s highly trained Assistant Skills Coaches, he finds his days spent delivering a broad spectrum of non-accredited and accredited courses.

As a result of a motorcycle accident 40 years ago, Paul broke his neck and is a quadriplegic. Paul explains, “I’ve had to learn to be patient and adapt to all the different challenges we have to overcome when you have a disability.”

In line with this year’s Learning Disability Week themes of reconnecting with friends and communities and addressing isolation issues, many people living with a learning disability still face after the end of COVID restrictions, AMH Promote is there to make a positive difference to mental health.

“I think we all make a difference to each and every one of our clients in some way, as each day they learn new skills, which will help them later on in life. We have social outings and lots of different activities, which can only be good for them. Adding, “AMH Promote speaks for itself and continues to strengthen year on year. If you’re committed to working with people with additional needs, you could not start in a better place. It’s an ideal way to start your career.

When I applied for the job I had no experience of working with adults with learning disabilities. However, within days I settled in so well, I never found it a challenge.  Maybe it’s because I have a disability myself.” Adding, “The clients accepted me with open arms, they were never judgmental of my ability to do my job, just so friendly and helpful to my needs. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better bunch of guys to work with, they are friends for life.”

For further information please visit

Barclays 100×100 Programme creates 100,000 reasons to celebrate at Action Mental Health!

Barclays 100×100 Programme creates 100,000 reasons to celebrate at Action Mental Health!

Action Mental Health’s specialist counselling service, AMH New Life Counselling has had a very special reason to celebrate. The organisation is one of 250 successful UK charities to receive funding, as part of Barclays response to the global pandemic.

As part of its 100 x 100 Programme, Barclays initially invited UK charities to apply for one of 100 donations of £100,000. Inspired by the scale of the response, the bank expanded the programme to help a further 100 charities and as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt, Barclays has now made a further 50 donations of £100,000 to UK charities to reach a total of 250 charities. 

The fund has focused on several areas including supporting mental health tomeet the needs of communities as they emerge from the pandemic, Barclays is supporting Action Mental Health with a £100,000 donation to support its specialist counselling service.

AMH New Life Counselling is delighted to have received a £100,000 donation of support from Barclays, enabling us to continue to deliver our meaningful services here in Northern Ireland. The funding will enable our team to provide hundreds of vital counselling sessions to local people, at a time when demand for our services continues to grow.

Adrian Doran, Barclays Northern Ireland, said: 

“With the long-term impacts of the crisis still being felt, Barclays continues to play a positive role in society. By working with charities like Action Mental Health who best understand the needs of their communities in Northern Ireland we can ensure help is getting right into the heart of society. We hope that by partnering with incredible local charities, we can continue to help people in need as they emerge from the crisis.”

David Babington, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health, said:“We are absolutely delighted to receive this extremely generous support from Barclays. We know that the full impact of the pandemic has yet to be felt, but for many people it has already had a very serious impact on their mental health. As a local charity, we are well placed to provide support to people in our communities and this £100,000 donation from Barclays will help us reach many more people.”

Learning Disability Week 2022 is here! Join us this week (20 – 26 June) in raising awareness of what life is like if you have a learning disability.

This year’s theme of ‘Living Life with a Learning Disability’ will show how people with a learning disability are reconnecting with friends and their communities. We are also highlighting the issues many people still face after the end of COVID restrictions such as dealing with poor mental health and anxiety.

Each year, the aim of Learning Disability Week is to:

– Smash stigmas and end discrimination

– Fight and campaign for a fair society

– Educate and raise awareness about learning disabilities

We will be celebrating Learning Disability Week by highlighting – AMH Promote, based in Bangor, Co. Down, and the many positive stories and incredible talent witnessed on a daily basis at our fantastic training facility. The service offers a wealth of educational opportunities for local adults with learning disabilities.

AMH Promote provides opportunities for adults with a learning disability to be socially active and develop new skills in a supportive and engaging environment.

AMH Promote’s training is delivered through a day opportunities service, which focuses on the personal development of clients. Courses such as those with ASDAN and OCN NI certificates, cover a diversity of topics such as Self Advocacy, Meal Preparation, Independent Living skills, Sports Studies, Personal & Social Development (PSD), computer skills, digital photography, baking skills, horticulture, communication skills, and crafts.

Above all, AMH Promote’s caring environment nurtures confidence and independence, with many clients not only enjoying new hobbies, creative activities and careers but importantly, making lasting lifelong friendships as they learn. The clients here are enjoying getting to reconnect face-to-face with their friends since the easing of COVID restrictions.

For more information about AMH Promote download their information leaflet, follow them on facebook and tune into our social media challenges all this week!

AMH New Horizons Foyle open new service for men, as part of Men’s Health Week

AMH New Horizons Foyle opened a ‘Men’s Den’ on the 14th June, to mark Men’s Mental Health Week.   

This group will meet twice a week to participate in gender specific issues i.e loneliness, support awareness, Eco therapy, health, wellbeing, cost of living crisis and engage in activities that in cooperate the 5 ways to wellbeing concepts essential for good mental health; Connect, Learn, Be Active, Giving & Take Notice. 

Co-facilitated by EBE Glenn Carlin and Staff, the Men will engage in activities such as ‘Leave no Trace’, board games, Movement to music, music therapy, kite making & flying, crafts, sustainable gardening, cooking on a budget, poetry & pastries, Outdoor pursuits, Air Fryer tips & tricks etc. 

The service which is for existing clients, will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, creating additionally to the week. Networking and connection will feature high on the agenda with visits planned to meet with all the Men’s Shed groups that are established around the City and County plus other to AMH’s sheds based in New Horizons Antrim, Fermanagh and Downpatrick.

Service Manager Pauline Flanagan said “The impact of COVID-19 has exasperated mental ill health. This additional service will enable Men to connect & engage with each other and the wider community.  I am delighted to be able to facilitate this client led initiative.”

Men’s Mental Health Week – Give your mental health an MOT this year

For #MensHealthWeek, men are being encouraged to give their physical and mental health an MOT this year.

Action Mental Health is very aware of the health issues that men are facing, including the stigma around how men deal with mental health issues.

Prior to the COVID 19 Pandemic, Men’s Mental Health was already a growing cause for concern, with men generally less likely to seek support for their mental health issues. The lockdowns, increased
unemployment and isolation, and other factors have only increased this concern.

What the stats say

  • Around 1 in 8 men are living with a mental health condition in the UK
  • In men under 50, suicide is the leading cause of death in the UK
  • Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men
  • Higher rates of suicide are also found in minority communities including gay men, veterans, men from BAME backgrounds, and those with low incomes.
  • Men report lower levels of life satisfaction
  • Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women
  • The number of men who are worried about their appearance has risen from 18% in 2009  to 23% in 2020

Looking after yourself

Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.

Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.

Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?

Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.

Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel

AMH Support

In Northern Ireland, Action Mental Health operates three Men’s Sheds for men aged 50+. Based in Downpatrick, Enniskillen and Antrim, the sheds bring men together to share their skills, have a laugh and a cup of tea while working on practical activities of their choice. It’s the perfect place for members to be themselves, a place to work at their own pace, a place to exchange ideas and learn, a place for members to support each other and build friendships. For further information please visit here.

Alongside the Sheds, Action Mental Health’s New Horizons services across Northern Ireland cater for men from 18+ supporting them back into education, employment or further training following periods of mental ill health. A number of our services also run groups specifically for younger clients – Lisburn (Speer), Foyle (Boost), Fermanagh (Boost), Antrim (Evolve). Find out more here.

AMH New Life Counselling offers a range of services to support men experiencing mental health issues.

In the past year AMH New Horizons supported 725 males while 83 men were welcomed into the Men’s Sheds. AMH New Life counselling further supported 442 male clients over the age of 18 through one-to-one counselling.

Additional Support

Speak to your GP – if you are worried about your mental health, please speak to your GP as they will be able to assess your needs and advise on suitable supports in your local area.

Lifeline is the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. No matter what your age or where you live in Northern Ireland, if you are or someone you know is in distress or despair, Lifeline is here to help.

Samaritans works to make sure there’s always someone there for anyone who needs someone. Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Loneliness Awareness Week 2022 – Top tips to keep loneliness at bay

Everybody feels lonely from time to time. Most people think loneliness is when our need for social contact and relationships is not being met. However, loneliness does not mean being alone. Loneliness can still occur when you have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship because you may feel misunderstood or uncared for by people.  

Loneliness itself isn’t a mental health problem. However the two are strongly linked.

Top tips to reducing loneliness

Someone who’s lonely probably also finds it hard to reach out. There’s a stigma surrounding loneliness, and people tend not to ask for help because they have too much pride. But it’s important to remember loneliness can – and does – affect anyone, of any age.

To mark Loneliness Awareness Week 2022, we are sharing some ideas of things you can do to help tackle loneliness.

  • Smile, even if it feels hard – Grab every chance to smile at others or begin a conversation – for instance, with the cashier at the shop or the person next to you in the GP waiting room. If you’re shy or not sure what to say, try asking people about themselves.
  • Invite friends for tea – If you’re feeling down and alone, it’s tempting to think nobody wants to visit you. But often friends, family and neighbours will appreciate receiving an invitation to come and spend some time with you.
  • Keep in touch by phone – Having a chat with a friend or relative over the phone can be the next best thing to being with them.
  • Learn to love computers – If your friends and family live far away, a good way to stay in touch is by using a computer or tablet. Libraries and community centres often hold regular training courses to learn basic computer skills – as well as being a good place to meet and spend time with others in their own right.
  • Get involved in local community activities – These will vary according to where you live, but the chances are you’ll have access to a singing or walking group, book clubs, bridge, bingo, quiz nights and faith groups.
  • Fill your diary – It can help you feel less lonely if you plan the week ahead and put things in your diary to look forward to each day, such as a walk in the park or going to a local coffee shop, library, sports centre or cinema.
  • Get out and about – Don’t wait for people to come and see you, travel to visit them.
  • Help others – Use the knowledge and experience you have gained to give something back to your community.