All posts by actionmentalhealth

Supporting Progressive Building Society’s Savings Week

It’s Northern Ireland Savings Week (20th – 24th September 2021). Now in its 4th year, Savings Week is an opportunity to help raise awareness of the benefits and importance of saving on a regular basis, encouraging people to not only think about saving, but prioritise it, and begin to consider the positive change it can have on their lives.

Action Mental Health is delighted to be supporting Progressive’s Savings Week again this year and we have shared some tips in our guest blog post Money and Mind on their website.

Scott Kennerley, Director of Financial Services, The Consumer Council NI; Jane Millar, Head of Lending & Savings, Progressive Building Society; Jonathan Smyth, Head of Fundraising & Communications, Action Mental Health at last year’s launch

Jonathan Smyth, Head of Communications & Fundraising at Action Mental Health, said of the partnership,

“We are delighted to be working alongside Progressive and The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland Savings Week as we know that financial anxiety and money worries can have serious impacts on people’s mental well-being. Teaching people about savings and budgeting, as well as taking steps to look after their mental health, is a simple way to prevent these issues getting out of control.”

Cooley PS pupils learn how to be Healthy Heroes with Action Mental Health ahead of move to ‘big school’

A County Tyrone primary school has taken proactive steps to safeguard its Primary 7 pupils’ mental health and well-being as they prepare for the transition to ‘big school’ next year.

Cooley Primary School in Sixmilecross has enlisted the help of Action Mental Health’s Healthy Heroes programme which has been specially designed to explore key themes that impact on young people in the pivotal move from primary school to secondary level education.

Action Mental Health’s MensSana Project Worker Michael McClean displays the Healthy Heroes shield.

Healthy Heroes is a new, informative, year-long programme which builds on Action Mental Health’s highly successful and widely subscribed Healthy Me programme, which was developed in partnership with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the Royal College of Psychiatry. Healthy Me has been promoting positive mental health in Northern Ireland’s primary schools since its launch in 2017.

Healthy Heroes aims to deal with issues of anxiety, stress and managing changes, as well as self-esteem, courage, confidence, learning differences and friendship. Crucially, it offers an evidence-based and trauma-informed approach to building life-long skills for coping with change and transitions. It is also all about celebrating individual children’s uniqueness and achievement as they move towards the first year of the next phase of their education.

Karen Atchison, Principal of Cooley Primary School commented: “Action Mental Health has supported our school over the past number of years and pupils and staff alike have found it to be very beneficial with practical advice and activities. 

“The workshops themselves have appealed to our pupils and have given them self-help skills to deal with issues they may encounter. We are excited that our Year 7 class is going to be able to avail of the ‘Healthy Heroes’ programme,” she said.

“Children have had many different experiences in their lives over the past 18 months and we are delighted that this programme will support them as they transition towards post primary education, covering many key topics such as courage, anxiety and self-esteem. Having the support of an experienced project worker is just great,” she added.

AMH MensSana’s Michael McClean, who is among the charity’s team of specialist project workers who will deliver the Healthy Heroes programmes to Cooley Primary School, praised the school’s uptake of AMH’s mental health and well-being programmes in the past.

“The school has undertaken other programmes, like Healthy Me, in the past and it is so good to see this rural school placing such an emphasis on their pupils’ well-being and bring it to the fore.”

Children of Cooley Primary School learning how to prepare themselves for the transition to ‘big school’ with the help of Action Mental Health’s MensSana Project Worker Michael McClean.

For pricing and more information, contact our AMH MensSana team at:


Southern Trust area
T: 028 3839 2314
E: menssana@amh.org.uk


All other areas
T: 07590 444630
E: amhmenssanani@amh.org.uk

Alexandria’s Story

It’s a strange thing, mental health. It’s difficult to understand and the symptoms of poor mental health don’t always show on the outside but they are always felt, in every area of life. I was referred to AMH New Horizons over three years ago now, but have suffered from the poor state of my mental health for well over two decades.

When I came here I’d, well, lost hope to be honest. I was doing better than I ever had thanks to an understanding psychologist and the Ballymena Mental Health Team who referred me here, but was still mostly going through the motions expecting to fail and fall back into depression and anxiety as soon as I was done. I expected to spend two years doing things  I couldn’t care less about and telling people what they wanted to hear until I could isolate myself again, and all mostly for the sake of my parents. They worried so much and I wanted them to have a little hope, false as it was to my mind.

My first day was stressful, as would be expected. I was in a room of people I didn’t know after all, something that caused my anxiety to spike at the very thought of it. But there was something different this time. These were people like me. People who spent every day with the same kind of struggles and problems I was used to minimising for the sake of my family. But cynicism held out, at least for a little while.

AMH New Horizons welcomed me with open arms, but it was also a place I felt my own needs and issues were being respected. They weren’t trying to change me,they were helping me be the best version of myself I could be. Giving me tools and education and letting me make my own way about it. Guiding me, but letting me make up my own mind. Giving suggestions, but letting me make my own choices, even if that took longer than for other people. I felt safe and seen and heard. And, over time, I opened up, relaxed, felt at home.

AMH New Horizons has given me hope again. Hope that I’m not going to fall or, if I do, I have the strength to get back up again. I have qualifications in areas I’ve found interesting, including currently doing an NVQ in Business and Administration, where I feel confident I’m doing well, and a range of creative courses that have boosted my mood and gotten me interested in hobbies again. The staff here have been wonderful – Understanding, patient and open. They let you know they are here to support you, without pushing or prodding.

I will forever be indebted to AMH New Horizons and the staff that work here. This organisation has changed my life so much for the better. They’ve given me hope, safety and a future. I can never thank them enough and I will never, ever forget any of them, or any of the friends I’ve made here.

Alexandria is a participant on AMH’s “Working It Out” Project which is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

Paul lands a new job

Paul came onto Action Mental Health’s Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Programme in December 2020 having been unable to work for 20 years due to his disability. He was very motivated for going to work but felt that his confidence, lack of qualifications, and experience were preventing him from taking that step to look for employment. 

Lockdown then hit in January 21 so Paul was having weekly meetings with his Employment Specialist on Zoom and the first job he felt would be suitable was a position in the Ulster Hospital as a Service Assistant. Paul had also previously mentioned that he would like to gain a qualification so this was discussed further with his Employment Officer who suggested he could complete a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate online to help him fulfill the Desirable Criteria on the application – he successfully completed this within days of the discussion.

Paul got an interview in the Ulster Hospital and although he wasn’t successful at that time his confidence was growing as he had achieved a qualification and also gained some interview experience.  Paul continued to look for jobs, had an interview with Robinsons Cleaning Services for a part-time cleaning position, and was successful.  He started working in Randox Health in June 21 for 12 hours per week and then offered a further 3 hours.  Paul takes great pride in his job, works very conscientiously, and now feels he has a purpose. 

“Being on the IPS Programme really helped me to see that work was an option and it has been brilliant for me.  It has given me something to focus on other than my mental health and has made such a positive difference to me.  I am also much richer and happier.”


To find out more about the IPS programme click here : https://www.amh.org.uk/services/individual-placement-support/ . The programme is available in the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust Area

This project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the Belfast HSC Trust.

Mark finds his vocation

Joining Action Mental Health (AMH) had a significant impact on Mark’s life. The AMH ‘Working it Out’ ESF programme supports the recovery of adults experiencing mental ill health who are interested in progressing towards further training and employment opportunities.

Mark has suffered from mental ill-health since childhood.  As an adult Mark gained employment, however, he had periods of time when his mental health declined and he needed to take time out of work to recover.  His mental ill-health impacted his career.

After leaving work Mark was referred to AMH New Horizons where he completed over 20 Accredited training courses including OCNNI in Stress Management Techniques, Health & Social Care, and Employability courses.

‘I came to AMH-New Horizons in the spring of 2018.  Spring is known as a time of rebirth, hope, and new life.  I received this from the moment I engaged with the service and it continued to grow throughout my time with AMH.  Looking back, I am forever grateful for the opportunity that was offered, so that I could gain knowledge, skills, and experience.

I received much-needed help to integrate, progress, and survive in this life.  I gained the confidence I needed to pursue voluntary work and I am now working as a personal carer and thanks to AMH-New Horizons I have found my vocation.

Mark is taking part in the “Working It Out” Project which is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

Colin gets a confidence boost!

The AMH ‘Working it Out’ project provides a comprehensive programme of specialist training in personal development, vocational skills and employability, to people recovering from mental illness, supporting them to gain paid employment or progress to further education /further training.

Colin Wright, a client at AMH New Horizons, initially took part in International Job Shadow Day with Alan Espey Clothing & Interiors Newtownards. This was then followed by a work experience placement and eventually, Colin commenced part-time employment in the business. While attending AMH New Horizons, Colin also achieved his NVQ Level Two Certificate in Retail Skills.

“Securing this employment, has meant a great deal to me. It has boosted my confidence and career prospects. I’m indebted to Mr Espey for providing me with the opportunity to develop my retail experience and for encouraging and motivating me,” said Colin.

Mr Espey commented, “For us, this was an excellent opportunity to give someone with no retail experience a chance to gain retail knowledge and practical skills in a real working environment. I watched, over the weeks and months, Colin becoming more confident with weekly tasks such as customer engagement, stocktaking, using tills and displaying stock. It has been a very positive experience and one where we feel we have helped Colin to plan for his future.”

Colin is taking part in the “Working It Out” Project which is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

What Impact did Action Mental Health have in 2020/21?

Our Impact Report 2020/21 is now available to download!

Packed with stats from our recovery services, resilience services and therapeutic services, in what was a very different and challenging year, it is a clear picture of how we continued to have an impact in our local communities despite lockdowns and restrictions.  During 2020/21 Action Mental Health continue to live up to our mission – to make a positive difference to people’s mental health and well-being!

Our finanical year in April 2020 kicked off with Action Mental Health announcing its merger with New Life Counselling. The move was designed to combine resources, services and expertise, and to offer the best opportunity to develop and sustain mental health support for our communities in these challenging times. The EU PEACE IV-funded project, ‘Our Generation,’ marked its official launch on 24th September, through a special virtual event, when its objective ‘Growing Up Better – Together’ was unveiled. This year, we were also delighted to return to Lisburn, when AMH New Horizons Derriaghy moved to the city. This year saw the burgeoning of a new virtual world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in response, the development of a new well-being hub. A far-reaching initiative to promote positive mental health during the crisis was launched by the Departments for Communities and Health, partnered with 15 leading mental and well-being health charities, including Action Mental Health. AMH also launched a new section to its website homepage to direct visitors to a specially-collated information section on promoting and supporting mental health and well-being during the unprecedented period.

AMH adapted and brought many of its services to clients, with a range of blended learning and support during the lockdown. The lockdown also marked AMH New Horizons and AMH Promote offering a virtual service and as restrictions eased, a blended service. Services around the country launched a comprehensive training calendar, delivering activity packs to clients, offering them workshop activities, online entertainment and educational packages, plus arts and craft materials. AMH MensSana, AMH everyBODY and AMH Works, also moved to online delivery, offering a range of training sessions. AMH New Life Counselling also quickly adapted and began to offer online counselling support to its clients, while the Workable team continued to provide support remotely as well.

A big thank you to all the AMH Team who adapted to the ever changing circumstances and challenges, and to our clients for their engagement, resilience and patience, our supporters, our funders and our fundraisers; together we continued to #TakeActionOnMentalHealth.

#1 : Responding to Client Need During Covid-19
#2 : Enhancing & Supporting Recovery
#3 Building Resilience
#4 Counselling & Therapeutic Services
#5 Raising Awareness & Tackling Stigma

A hard copy is available by contacting comms@amh.org.uk 

A full copy of the Annual Report and Financial Statements to the 31st March 2021 can be obtained by contacting cchesney@amh.org.uk or downloading here.

World Suicide Prevention Day – a day of hope

Action Mental Health today (September 10) joins the annual World Suicide Prevention Day campaign which this year focuses on the message of ‘Creating Hope Through Action’. The theme carries a message of hope and aims to encourage us to consider that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.

This year’s campaign, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), tells us that through our individual actions, we can all make a difference to someone in their darkest moments – whether our child, a parent, a friend, a colleague or a neighbour. We can also play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide.

The annual event is an opportunity to showcase the host of programmes and projects Action Mental Health provides in the area of mental ill health prevention, education, suicide, self-harm prevention and early intervention and strives tirelessly with partners to raise awareness.

AMH Works is one such service which provides quality mental health training programmes for employers to support healthy, resilient workplaces.  AMH Works develops the skills and learning required to effectively manage employee mental well-being in the workplace and next week (September 20) delivers an online Safetalk session. SafeTalk, for the over 16s, is a certified training programme that prepares people to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.

AMH MensSana is a service within Action Mental Heath, which, in partnership with PIPS Hope & Support operates the Southern Area Protect Life Resource Service. This service provides an outreach community development service with a particular focus on promoting positive mental health and the prevention of suicide and self harm through the community development approaches.

Another arm of Action Mental Health, AMH everyBody aims to promote greater understanding and awareness of eating disorders, considering the fact taht suicide is a major cause of death among those living with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. AMH everyBODY is part of the Southern Area Protect Life Forum.

Action Mental Health has long campaigned for greater investment in mental health services and welcomed the Health’s Minister’s recent Mental Health Strategy for Northern Ireland which will work in tandem with the Protect Life 2 Strategy to prevent suicide and self-harm, to ensure what the minister described as ‘synchronized service delivery’. Integral to the delivery are a Multi Agency Triage Team, Lifeline, Towards Zero Suicide programme, bereavement
support services, self harm services and stigma reduction. It follows the unveiling of the Suicide Prevention Strategy for Northern Ireland in 2019, launched in light of suicide statistics in Northern Ireland which show:

  • Three times as many people die by suicide in Northern Ireland each year than are killed in road traffic collisions
  • A total of 219,000 people have been directly affected by suicide since 2005
  • More than 70% of people who die by suicide are not known to mental health services
  • 10% of 15/16 year olds have self-harmed at some stage

For those struggling and in need of someone to talk to contact Lifeline 0808 808 8000 or the Samaritans 116 123. If you are in the Southern Trust area you can contact AMH MensSana’s Protect Life Service, 028 3839 2314 or email menssana@amh.org.uk.