All posts by actionmentalhealth

A fun-filled day with everything from zorbing to llama walking

This year’s much-anticipated Action Mental Health Client Day has been another rousing success.

The bi-annual event, staged for the second time at The Jungle NI adventure centre in Magherafelt, gave clients the opportunity to experience new activities and challenge themselves to something new.

More than 500 clients, from across Northern Ireland – along with dozens of dedicated staff – converged on the picturesque activity hub to partake in everything from hair-raising zorbing events, segway sessions, wall-climbing and paintball shooting – even relaxing llama walks!

Dozens of clients participated in a veritable talent show, making up a packed musical itinerary of amateurs and professional alike – singing and playing instruments with everything from guitars and violins to ukuleles.

Northern Ireland performers ‘The Just Adam Band’ had people on their feet dancing to a host of hits, giving the client talent a chance to rest after facing the audience themselves.

Action Mental Health Chief Executive David Babington said: “Clients I spoke to were really enjoying themselves and getting a lot out of it, some by challenging themselves by zorbing or singing in front of an audience or just socialising and making new friends.”

“I’d like to pay tribute to Callum Clarke (Fundraising & Events Officer) for his efforts and for leading on the organisation of the event, supported by the Communications and Fundraising Team.”





Big boost for Action Mental Health’s BOOST service

Enniskillen Rotary Club President Henry Robinson, with generous donors, Billy and Margaret Mulligan, and New Horizons Fermanagh Service Manager, Caroline Ferguson.

Young people who attend a specially-tailored service at Action Mental Health in Enniskillen have been gifted a brand new space, kitted out with a host of modern new features.

The brand new BOOST room at AMH New Horizons Fermanagh has been unveiled, offering 18-25-year-olds experiencing mental health issues a dedicated space, complete with kitchen and hang-out room featuring gaming and high-tech equipment.

BOOST is a programme designed to help young people re-build their confidence and self-esteem, and to re-engage in education following periods of mental ill-health. BOOST also includes a range of personal development, vocational and employability initiatives, along with a range of fun and life-enhancing activities.

BOOST’s new facilities will assist in the delivery of cookery and domestic programmes designed to encourage independence among young people, while the high-tech additions, including drones, will take photography classes to new heights.

The creation of the cool new space has been entirely driven by donations from the Enniskillen Rotary Club which hosted a number of activities over the year, including a coffee morning and popular Christmas Concert held across two churches, St Macartin’s Cathedral and St Micheal’s church. The Rotary also topped up the pot at AMH’s Great Big Purple Picnic fundraising event last month.

BOOST has also been chosen as the beneficiary of the recent Fisher Cycle Challenge.

Among the number of individual donors who supported the project were Billy and Margaret Mulligan who asked guests at their recent wedding to donate cash to local charities, in place of gifts – including AMH. As a result, the couple handed over a cheque for £2700 to the BOOST service, after hearing of the work of Action Mental Health during the Enniskillen Rotary Club ball.

Rotary President Henry Robinson also made a similar gesture, asking former work colleagues to donate cash to AMH instead of contributing to a retirement gift for him.

AMH New Horizons is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

New Horizons Fermanagh Service Manager Caroline Ferguson commented: “We would like to sincerely thank everyone who kindly supported the creation of the new BOOST space. It provides a wonderful range of up-to-date equipment for our young people who attend here at New Horizons.”


Come run Co Down’s picturesque southerly shores for Action Mental Health

Fancy a scenic run in aid of charity? Then why not select the Cranfield Shores Charity 5K Run and run it in aid of Action Mental Health.
The event takes place on Sunday, July 15 along Co Down’s picturesque southerly coast with Carlingford Lough.
Forms for pre-registration fees, which apply until July 11, can be obtained from Cranfield Caravan Park, Chestnutt Holiday Park, Cranfield Bay Holiday Park, Sandilands Holiday Park and Shanlieve Holiday Park. The cost for adults is £8 each, and £4 per child, or £20 for a family of two adults and two children or over.
Registration commences from 9am on the day at Cranfield Caravan Park Office, with the runners setting off at 10.30am.

M&S staff at The Junction lend their support to the Men’s Shed Antrim

Volunteers from Marks and Spencer, The Junction, Antrim, get green-fingered at The Men’s Shed Antrim.

M&S staff at The Junction are to lending their time and effort to volunteer at The Men’s Shed in Antrim as part of a dedicated week of volunteering by the retailer.

Marks and Spencer employees of the Antrim-based Junction will be rolling up their sleeves to assist at Action Mental Health’s Men’s Shed group, for men over 50, as part of Making Every Moment Special Week taking place from June 18 to 24.

The week-long event aims to inspire M&S colleagues around the country to use their skills for social good. Last year The Men’s Shed was chosen by M&S Junction One as its charity partner of the year.

Eoin McAnuff of the Men’s Shed Antrim said: “It was great to welcome the M&S staff from The Junction, to join the men in carrying out our various activities that we are involved here. The volunteer’s contribution makes a big impact to the shed garden area. The event also cements good relations between us and the retailer who last year nominated us as their charity partner.”

Fundraising Friday – will you feature next week?

Week in, week out, countless people around Northern Ireland tirelessly donate funds to Action Mental Health.

As an official thank you, we have introduced Fundraising Friday to ensure our faithful legion of fundraisers’ efforts don’t go unnoticed.

Our recent social media posts have highlighted Action Mental Health stars who have raised thousands of pounds through a variety of means: from marathon runs, tea parties, mountain treks, picnics (in aid of AMH’s first ever Great Big Purple Picnic this year), abseils and a whole lot more besides.

Last week’s #FundraisingFriday was a whopping great week of cash raised to help Action Mental Health provide the range of services on offer to young and old, and serves as a great example of the efforts which inspired our new weekly posts.

The staff, pupils and parents of Sandelford Special School in Coleraine raised an absolutely staggering £5,314.48, through a variety of events, including four staff teams in last month’s Belfast marathon and AMH’s recent Great Big Purple Picnic.

Sandelford had chosen AMH as its beneficiary after the Northern Area Mental Health Initiative delivered training to staff and pupils last year. The staff said it had such an impact on them and on school life that they wanted to give something back.

Over in Antrim, the Run-Anon group of runners from Crumlin raised an impressive £2,416 from their joint efforts in last month’s Belfast City Marathon. The group members, led by Aiden O’Neill – who has over 50 marathons under his belt – and assisted by coach Shauna Gibson, raised £2,416 for AMH after the annual run through Belfast city centre and its environs. Thank you so much to all of you! We are so grateful and you should be very proud of yourselves!



Mental health focus as Men’s Health Week continues

As Men’s Health Week continues, Action Mental Health exists to support an integral part of society’s overall health – their mental health and well-being. It is here as a beacon of hope for people suffering a diverse range of mental health issues – from anxiety and depression, to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Martin shares his story…

My name is Martin and I am 54 years old. I’ve been suffering with schizophrenia for a long time and was diagnosed at the age of 31.

Since my diagnoses I have had experienced four admissions to hospital, and although I have had a number of periods of crisis, I have had support from the home treatment teams and floating support which has allowed me to get the treatment I needed without a hospital admission.

Currently I receive support from, among others, Action Mental Health, and through attending AMH New Horizons, I am pursuing courses which will help my future employment prospects. So far I am working toward recognised qualifications – NVQ courses – and I have also completed the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) which has helped in my ongoing recovery.

Due to the nature of my illness, it has taken me a number of years to find a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) who I feel I can trust and have a relationship with, whom I can talk to openly. This allows me to talk freely about my feelings and the paranoid thoughts that cause me difficulties. I know that when I explain my thought processes, I don’t have to keep repeating this to other medical professionals ­–they will pass the information on for me.

Because my illness is an enduring and lifelong one, I feel that to seek and sustain paid employment more support should be given to employers by medical professionals such as CPNs. I feel they should be able to come into the workplace to give support.  I would like the opportunity to have gradual increase or decrease in hours of employment when periods of illness are good or bad to reduce dependence on benefits. To help maintain independent living for schizophrenic patients, I believe more sheltered accommodation should be made available where 24/7 support is available.


Gary’s Story – feeling employable for the first time following decades of alcohol addiction

June 11 -17 is Men’s Health Week across the UK and with mental health being an integral component of people’s health, its importance to a man’s overall well-being cannot be overestimated.

Action Mental Health has recorded the stories of clients whose mental health has been affected by diverse factors, from addictions, depression and other mental illnesses, to outside factors, including the effects of grief and loss.

People like Gary Crawford are among the many across Northern Ireland whose mental health has been affected by an addition – alcohol abuse. And as confirmed by the World Health Organisation, people who drink too much are more vulnerable to mental ill-health.

Gary knows this only too well – an unhappy start in life started him down a spiralling journey of alcohol-related misery, when he began drinking at the age of 18.

Sadly he can’t recall much of his life since the – save for the odd milestone event, like dropping out of an Applied Language Degree at university – but the intervening years, he knows only too well were dominated by his addiction.

Now 48, Gary was a lone drinker for much of that time, until something he can’t quite identify compelled him to seek the company of other people like himself.

“I became a street drinker. Don’t ask me why because I’d been happy to drink by myself in my flat but for some reason I took to going out to find the company of street drinkers.

“It was miserable really and though the majority of people on the street are really lovely people there are those who aren’t. If you are streetwise you can survive but I wasn’t, and as a result sometimes I would just find myself walking into the wrong crowd and paying the price for it. I received a number of severe beatings and ended up in hospital,” he reveals.

It was his GP who helped him get his life back on track and helped him on his way to finding a place with Action Mental Health’s Quest programme. Quest is an interactive programme which addresses the complex issues linked to alcohol abuse and its impact, not only the individual, but on their family and friends and wider community.

Running five days a week at AMH New Horizons Foyle, the project helps people identify the triggers that drive their abuse of alcohol and their patterns of behaviour that impact negatively on their mental health. People learn stress management and take part in a variety of personal development programmes, like confidence building and negotiating skills and personal health and welfare and even money management. They also undertake a number of education and training-related courses and activities, from gardening to Information Technology.

Gary admits he had a ‘rocky start’ on the Quest programme.

“I didn’t always want to come here, I have to admit but once I was here, and began to interact with others it became easier.

“It’s not like an army training camp or like work with the strictness of time and things like that, because we have fun. It’s not all messing about but the tutors make it really enjoyable.”

It was through the time-honoured benefits of gardening that Gary planted the seeds of his mental health recovery and has been watching its shoots sprout into an entirely new sense of self.

Structure was the most pivotal point in the steps of Gary’s recovery. It was the most simple of gardening tasks, taken as part of the Quest course – but it affected milestone change.

“I had to look after the butternut squash. I’d leave the course and go home, knowing I had to come back the next day to look after the butternut squash.

“Then the tutor saw that I was dealing well with this, so he added on another little task, like the garden peas. That little bit of responsibility, along with the structure, was really helpful.”

With an academic background stalled many years before, Gary turned in a new direction, courtesy of the accredited courses available through AMH and began down a journey in Information Technology which he hopes to pursue further.

“It’s the first time in my adult life that I feel employable,” he said.

Sober now for just over a year Gary said though he has been through a battle of alcohol abuse, he doesn’t have a quick fix answer for others still in its grip.

“You can’t fix it for anyone else but what I would say is talk to someone. If you think you have a problem don’t try to just cope on your own, tell someone you trust or tell a professional. That’s the one thing I can confidently say: talk to someone.”

AMH New Horizons Foyle assists adults recovering from mental ill-health. We offer a range of person- centred programmes in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere to support your recovery.

In Foyle we provide a range of training programmes to help you increase your confidence and self esteem, gain new skills, qualifications and improve your career opportunities.

The “Working it Out” project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the five NI Health & Social Care Trusts.

Are you tough enough to join the Tough Mudder for AMH?

Action Mental Health is inviting you to join us in one of the most gruelling fundraising efforts we’ve ever taken part in – the Tough Mudder.

Tough Mudder is a team-oriented, mud-bound obstacle course designed to let you put your physical strength and mental grit to the ultimate test – and raise funds for Northern Ireland’s leading mental health charity, Action Mental Health.

Taking place on July 21 this year amid the rolling hills and forests of Loughcrew Gardens, in Oldcastle, Co Meath, you can run or walk the five miles of the Tough Mudder but which ever way you tackle it you’ll end up muddy from head to toe – which is all part of the fun!

It’s filled with obstacles from iced water pools to 15 feet-high wall climbs and muddy ditch tunnels – but if one obstacle looks to much for you, you can skip it and go on to the next. The Tough Mudder is for people aged 14 and over, with under 18s needing accompanied by someone over that age.

Register for only £40. Sponsorship encouraged. The registration fee includes return coach from Belfast City Centre so, if you think you’re hard enough get in touch with our Fundraising Team to find out more  or 028 9182 8494. Or book here!