All posts by actionmentalhealth

Duke of Edinburgh Gold for Sinead!

Congratulations to Sinead O’Hara on receiving her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. Sinead, who attends Action Mental Health’s BOOST programme at New Horizons Fermanagh, was presented with the coveted award by HRH The Princess Royal during a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle this week. Sinead was accompanied by a number of other award winners from Fermanagh, and Mrs Greenaway, who runs the Carrowhony Pet farm, Maguiresbridge,  where Sinead volunteers regularly.  Well done Sinead!

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has helped countless young people on their sometimes difficult path to adulthood.” HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

For the past seven decades, the Award scheme has inspired and transformed the lives of millions of young people from all walks of life. From volunteering to physical activities, life skills to expeditions, achieving a DofE Award is a passport to a brighter future, valued by employers and universities. There are three levels of programme you can do which, when successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

To find out more click here –

The Boost programme 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. To find out more please click here.


Pink tribute act at Mahon’s this Saturday in aid of Action Mental Health

Pink may not be there in person but local tribute artist Alecia Karr will be pounding out the hits, bringing her alive to audiences at Mahon’s Hotel in Irvinstown on Saturday, September 8 in aid of Action Mental Health.

The event has been organised by local woman Stacy Johnson who is committed to raising awareness and funds for local mental health services.

Mahon’s has donated the venue free for the event so you’ve still got time to plan to attend this Saturday night.

For tickets and further information contact Mahon’s on 028 6862 1656 or Stacy on 07926 449888. The price of a ticket is just £10, with the event kicking off at 8pm ’til late.

Gala Ball to target rising suicide in aid of Action Mental Health and Pips

Gareth McGimpsey, Lauren Brown, Phil McGimpsey, Robyn Gouin and Jodie Gouin, prepare to #TakeActionOnMentalHealth at their Suicide Awareness Gala Ball on September 29.

A group of young people mourning the loss of friends who have died by suicide are staging a gala ball in their memory and to help raise awareness of its rising incidence in Northern Ireland.

Six young people, from the Dundonald and Belfast areas, are also using the event to help raise funds for two leading charities, Action Mental Health and Pips, the suicide and self-harm prevention organisation.

The Suicide Awareness Gala Ball will be held at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast on Saturday, September 29. The group is appealing for local businesses to offer prizes for raffles to help raise more money on the night.

Sisters Jodie and Robyn Gouin, from Dundonald, have lost two friends in the past six years and together with four other friends – Phil and Gareth McGimpsey, Ryan Harris and Lauren Brown – they have decided to host the ball together.

They felt compelled to act following their friends’ untimely deaths, and by staging the gala, they hope to raise money for both Action Mental Health and for Pips, to shine a light on the rising problem of suicide, especially in young men.

Jodie, 26 explained: “We want to raise awareness and to try to break down the stigmas that prevent males, especially, from talking about their problems and whatever drives them to such drastic – and final – steps, as suicide.

Her younger sister Robyn, who is 22 agreed: “One of our friends was there for me and very supportive when our grandad died. He was the first one to come to me and tell me to keep going on, but then it wasn’t so long after that that he took his own life.

“Suicide is on the increase and there are still people, especially young men, who suffer anxiety or other issues who are afraid to talk about it, and we have to do something about that,” she added.

“We have to raise awareness that there are people and organisations, like Action Mental Health and Pips, which can help. People who are suffering need to know they are not alone.”

AMH Fundraising Officer Callum Clark said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the benefactors of the Suicide Awareness Gala Ball.

“It is great to see this group of young people, who sadly have been bereaved of friends by suicide, making such an effort to help break down the stigma still attached to mental health.”

For further details and information on purchasing tickets for the black tie charity event, which cost £35 each and include a three-course meal, please visit the group’s Facebook page –

ABC Lord Mayor gets insight into green-fingered clients at Action Mental Health

Action Mental Health’s Head of Operations, Audrey Allen joins AMH Chief Executive, David Babington to welcome Lord Mayor Julie Flaherty to Tannaghmore Gardens, hosted by AMH New Horizons Craigavon and Banbridge Service Manager, Colin Loughran.

The Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Julie Flaherty, has been getting an insight into the wide-reaching work of Action Mental Health in the local community.

Councillor Flaherty recently visited with Action Mental Health personnel and clients during a special tour of Tannaghmore Gardens near Lurgan, in a bid to learn about the link between the picturesque venue and the charity. The gardens provide training and employment opportunities for people who attend the nearby AMH New Horizons which serves the Council Borough.

Mrs Flaherty paid the visit as part of her commitment to support the charity ahead of the Council’s support for World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 and World Mental Health Day, which takes place on October 10. It is on the latter date when civic buildings throughout the borough are expected to ‘Go Purple’ and be illuminated in purple light in support of AMH’s many events to mark the global spotlight on mental health issues.

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

Action Mental Health Chief Executive David Babington was there to greet the mayor and explained how the gardens aid people’s recovery from periods of mental ill-health.

“We have been working within the gardens since the mid-1990s and here, we help create vocational, employment and life skills opportunities for people during their recovery journey through individually tailored and progressive support plans.  Our partnership with ABC here at Tannaghmore Gardens also enables clients to make a significant contribution to their community in maintaining the beautiful Walled Garden.”

AMH have enjoyed a positive working relationship with the ABC Council and look forward to future collaborations that will collectively help in countering the stigma that still exits, limiting the potential for people who experience mental ill health and their quality of life.

Firewalking and forays down memory lane for AMH Foyle’s 25th birthday

The silverware is being polished as Action Mental Health’s Foyle New Horizons service prepares to mark 25 years of providing a lifeline for people experiencing mental ill-health.

Clients, past and present, will converge on AMH in Derry/Londonderry on August 29 for a celebration marking many milestones from a quarter century of providing support, camaraderie and practical help for local people.

The day’s festivities will feature a BBQ and an array of events staged to cast an eye down memory lane. New Horizons clients will then join staff and local supporters, including councillors and Assembly members to brace themselves for firewalking and glasswalking!

The event will also showcase arts and crafts created at New Horizons Foyle, including a feature flower meadow, finely crafted from fused glass and ceramics with a centrepiece being a glass sword set in a glass cage – depicting AMH’s overarching theme of cutting out the stigma surrounding mental ill-health.

New Horizons first opened up in the north western city in June 1993. Foyle Service Manager Mickie Harkin was one of those around as the charity started welcoming in people from the city and surrounding areas who commenced their journey to recovery and hope .

The past 25 years have witnessed numerous highlights, from anti-stigma campaigns, including the challenging ‘Don’t Lose Your Marbles’ events, to the one-of-a-kind sofa made from books, to mark the ‘What’s Your Story?’ initiative during the City of Culture.

The quarter century of activities also included the collaboration between AMH and artist Pat Ross, who brought his stunning ‘Read Between the Lines’ art, depicting his struggles with schizophrenia to New Horizons Foyle, as well as the creation of a fine, glass fiddle, by AMH client Billy Henderson, which had the honour of being displayed at Stormont.

Local dignitaries from district and borough councils, the Northern Ireland Assembly – even the Deputy First Minister, the late Martin McGuinness, visited in 2011.

The yearly World Mental Health Day celebrations, held every autumn, annually presented clients and staff with opportunities to mark the topic of recovery from mental ill-health, through informational and artistic outlets, while the QUEST programme – Foyle’s specialist Alcohol Outreach Project, has been a pivotal stepping stone for people suffering from addiction.

Fundraisers have come forth in many guises, from the individuals who have walked, run or abseiled their way for sponsorship for AMH Foyle, similar efforts include the generous local companies and statutory bodies – all helping to sustain the future of the regional service.

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

Mickie Harkin stated: “This anniversary event is all about the countless clients we have helped, from their first tentative and nervous steps into New Horizons, until they moved on to the next phase of their lives, more positive and usually clutching certificates of achievement in various vocational courses.

“But it’s also about the many individuals, organisations, employers, funders, partners, staff and our clients’ families who have all contributed to help us build the service, and who continue, to this day, 25 years later, to make it what it is, and will continue to be in the future.”

My Story

From 1997 I struggled daily with depression and anxiety.  Having a family of 5, I just had to get on with it and lived day to day in the hope I would get better.

However a big turning point, four years ago, was the loss of my father which caused my mental health to deteriorate.  Although my family were supportive, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into depression.

After many counselling sessions and appointments with consultants, my GP suggested that I should attend AMH New Horizons in Downpatrick.  As you can image this was very frightening and I was extremely nervous about going.

However I met with Joanna (AMH Client Development Co-ordinator) who quickly put my mind at ease and talked me through the various courses on offer.  So that’s when I found myself signing up for the NVQ Level 2 Health & Social Care course and it all started from there …….

Three months into my course, I meet Stephanie (AMH Employment Officer), who discussed various career options with me.  I told her I would like to get a paid job and low and behold after filling in an application form for a part-time cleaner, within 2 weeks, I had my first job!  Again Stephanie supported me throughout this whole process and very quickly, I settled into my new job.

So, to finish my story, I have just been offered another job in the health and social care field, my family are much more content and happy and feel that Action Mental Health has changed my life for the better.  I have my own independence, and I am now supporting my own daughter through the transition of moving away from home to attend university.

In one sentence my advice to anyone reading this ….

“Give it a go …… AMH will always believe in you and support you ….


Many thanks to S MCKibben for sharing her story.  She is taking part in the “Working It Out” project which 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. To find out more please click here.


My Journey with AMH New Horizons, Derriaghy

Action Mental Health has been a lifeline for me as I was a recluse and never socialised with the outside world.  My mental health was deteriorating rapidly until I started coming to AMH New Horizons in Derriaghy.  It is a fantastic service which helps improve your mental health and helps you to achieve goals in bettering yourself and preparing to get back into the world of work.

The staff at AMH New Horizons are always there if you need to chat or need any information and they are a great support to all their clients.  AMH has helped me make new friends and create a closer “family” circle who are understanding and know what each other are going through.

I cannot praise and thank Action Mental Health enough for everything they have done for me and my recovery.

Many thanks to KB for sharing her story.  KB is taking part in the “Working It Out” project which 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. To find out more please click here.



Hi ho, it’s back to school they go…

The annual display of back-to-school photos have begun to appear on social media already. Our children, young and older alike, are posing in shiny new uniforms – usually at the front door – and are heading off on either the first rung of their school ladder, or the next.

Our kids are leaving behind the carefree days of summer to return to the  routine of the classroom, which for some, may be at a very significant period in their school career. Many are transitioning to ‘big school’ for the first time, are entering milestone years of GCSE or A-levels, or are heading off to university. For our P6s around the country, many are about to face the pivotal and unquestionably daunting prospect of AQE and GL exams.

There are many online resources to turn to offering advice on a gamut of issues surrounding the resumption of school, including:

Here at AMH, we are also lucky to be a partner of the Northern Area Mental Health Initiative. It is a portal packed with information and advice on dealing with a wide variety of issues related to childhood, from as young as eight years old.

As well as promoting the Five Ways to Well-Being, it offers a raft of resources on issues from exam pressures and bullying to coping skills and resilience, as well as fun and informative content. Visit the link below for more…