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World Mental Health Day

 “Challenging Stigma, Raising Awareness and Promoting Discussion”

To celebrate World Mental Health Day, on 10th October, four mental health charities; Action Mental Health, Aware Defeat Depression, Cause and Mindwise joined forces with the Royal College of Psychiatrists in N.Ireland to host an event in Queen’s Riddel Hall.

Attending the event, David Babington, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health said,

 “It is great to see our five organisations working together and taking action on mental health, we have benefited greatly already from this collaboration which has seen us come together as a stronger, more influential advocate for those living with mental ill health.  We hope this is only the start of a very successful and long-lasting partnership”.

Drama from Spanner in the Works

Bill Halliday, Chief Executive of Mindwise continued,

“The issue of challenging the stigma surrounding mental health is one of many which unite all five organisations and is high on each of our agendas”.

Maire Grattan CEO of CAUSE highlights how this stigma affects the wider community,

“One of the key issues for families, friends and partners of loved ones experiencing mental illness is the stigmatisation.  This can leave carers feeling inhibited in talking about their situation and at times feeling very isolated.  Linking with our four partners and looking at the public portrayal of mental illness is a very positive step and an important one from a carer’s perspective”.

A mime

The packed programme provided an opportunity for each organisation to contribute an item and the issues were explored through a range of different media, including drama, film and mime. The event ended with a discussion about the essential role journalists play in the public perception of mental illness.  Taking part were psychiatrists and representatives from the local media with questions from the audience.   The event was opened by the Minister for Health, Edwin Poots MLA.

Siobhan Doherty, Chief Executive with Aware Defeat Depression said before the event;

“We are hopeful that the event will be both interesting and diverse – but most of all we hope that it will begin a challenge to the stigma our users face daily – and in doing so create a strong foundation for future joint working.”  

Health Minister Edwin Poots joins the CEOs of each organisation

Dr Philip McGarry , Chair of  The Royal College of Psychiatrists in N.Ireland concluded,

“This is one of a series of initiatives in which the professional and voluntary organisations are working together to promote greater awareness of mental illness and the need for better services. There has been real progress over the last few years in destigmatising mental ill- health, but more needs to be done to change perceptions and attitudes. I believe that the wide range of events taking place on World Mental Health Day will help bring us closer to this goal”.

The Panel

Sweeping away stigma

Health Minister Edwin Poots

World Mental Health Day is observed annually in more than 100 countries on October 10 to raise public awareness about mental health issues.  Each year there are local, regional and national World Mental Health Day commemorative events.

Action Mental Health has been nominated as Charity of Year for the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission. This year, AMH had a host of events happening all over Northern Ireland during the week of World Mental Health Day including “The Great Push for Mental Health – Don’t Lose Your Marbles” event in the Great Hall in Parliament Buildings.

Mental illnesses affect nearly 12 percent of the world’s population – about 450 million or one out of every four people around the world – will experience a mental illness that would benefit from diagnosis and treatment.

Mental health is perhaps best explained as how well we cope with daily life and the challenges it brings.  When our mental health is good, we can more fully enjoy and appreciate the people and the environment around us.  We respond better to the stresses and challenges of daily life; we are more creative, use our abilities to the fullest and make the most of opportunities.  When our mental health is poor, it can be difficult to function in our daily lives.

“Don’t Lose Your Marbles” is a fun event in which teams and individuals have to steer their way through an obstacle course while holding on to their marbles!

Each cone represents one of life’s obstacles such as debt, bereavement, or illness – events which can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.  The event is an interactive way of celebrating World Mental Health Day and raising awareness of mental health. By being aware of our own mental health, we can build resilience to; and learn to cope better, with what life may throw at us.

David Babington CEO AMH & Speaker of the NI Assembly Willie Hay

MLAs and Northern Ireland Assembly staff joined in the fun with clients from AMH as well as some Ministers!  Speaker of the Assembly, William Hay, MLA  opened the event, and Chair of the Health Committee, Sue Ramsay MLA acted as compere!

Ahead of the event David Babington said, “We are very pleased that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission has chosen to focus on and support mental health and well-being this year and we are delighted to be named as Charity of the Year. Our team in AMH is already hard at work organising a number of fundraising activities and events here at Parliament Buildings, and we look forward to working with, and having the support of the Northern Ireland Assembly staff as well as the MLAs. We will also be running a number of joint initiatives with the Northern Ireland Assembly to raise awareness, tackle stigma and promote positive mental health, so today is really only the beginning of taking action on mental health.”

More Photos are on the Action Mental Health Facebook Page


Health In Mind Event!

Laughter yoga proved a hit!

Health in Mind, a partnership between AMH, Libraries NI, Cause, Mindwise and Aware Defeat Depression held a celebratory event to mark World Mental Health Day in Finaghy Library.

The 5 partner organisations are funded through the Big Lottery Fund Live and Learn Programme, and worked together to celebrate a day which is marked annually across the world.

Guests had the opportunity to browse a range of information stands highlighting the practical support that is available to people with mental health issues and their carers.  There were talks on a range of wellbeing themes from Nutrition – Mood & Food to Stress Management and Relaxation; there were also taster sessions of Laughter Yoga and Zumba to enjoy and Rhythm and Rhyme for the children.  Patricia Canning from the Reader Organisation also read aloud from inspiring and thought-provoking books.


Our CEO has a go at Zumba!

In Northern Ireland, it is estimated that one in four people have or will have a mental illness at some point in their lives so we are all likely to know someone who is affected by it.  This event showcased some of the many services provided by the community and voluntary sector including what libraries have in terms of accessible, up–to–date and relevant information on how to improve your mental health.  

Frances Dowds, Health in Mind Project Manager said,

“It is important for us to demonstrate to people that they are not alone when suffering or caring for a family member with a mental illness.  Days like this allow us to reach out into communities and talk opening to people about poor mental health; we hope that by working together we can send a positive message into society about what we can do to support people through their illness, to help them recover and to promote self-care as a way of reducing the chances of recurrence.”


The Health in Mind Partners



Jonathan Bell Opens AMH Central

At our bakery class, a bit of an accident with an icing flower – squashed flower!

Local MLA and Junior Minister Jonathan Bell officially opened the new AMH Central Offices adjacent to the AMH New Horizons service in Newtownards. The Central Offices will house the support functions of the organisation – HR, Communications, Finance, IT and the Chief Executive’s office.


The AMH Central team
Jonathan gets a quick lesson in IT

Jonathan was given a tour of the offices and visited the New Horizons service where he got to have a go at archery, baking and IT.

Jonathan Bell gets a bullseye – beginner’s luck!

More photos of the visit can be found on our facebook page

Protecting Life

Discussing the Protect Life Service are Colin Loughran, Service Manager at AMH MensSana; Nuala Quinn, Protect Life Coordinator at the SHSCT; Seamus McCabe, Protect Life Community Development Worker for the Southern Area; and Deirdre McNamee, Health & Social Well-Being Improvement Senior Officer at the PHA.

AMH MensSana and PIPS Newry & Mourne provide the Protect Life Service, helping individuals and community groups with suicide and self-harm prevention in Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Dungannon and South Tyrone, and Newry and Mourne.

Colin Loughran, Service Manager of AMH MensSana, explains:

“Both organisations are keen to work in partnership with individuals and community groups and look forward to delivering and developing helpful supports appropriate to their needs. Staff are happy to talk to individuals and community groups about the training they may require and ensuring that appropriate support is provided.”

The Protect Life Resource Service will also have a signposting service, providing individuals and community groups with a valuable point of contact and sources of support regarding suicide and self harm prevention and mental health. The Service is funded by the Public Health Agency.

Mr Loughran is also Chair of the Southern Area Protect Life/Mental Health Promotion Community and Voluntary Forum, says that suicide presents a complex and deeply concerning challenge for our society and is a challenge that everyone must respond to comprehensively and collectively.

 “It is recognised that no single government department can work in isolation to tackle suicide. The Protect Life Group has developed a Community Response Plan that aims to support communities who have become vulnerable to suicide. Community Response has drawn people from Health and Social Care, Education, PSNI, District Councils and Community and Voluntary organisations who are committed to working together in the event of such a response being needed. In August this year, 100 people from a range of backgrounds attended a series of workshops across the Southern area highlighting the Community Response Plan.”

Nuala Quinn, Protect Life Coordinator at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, adds:

“The Protect Life Group recognises that mental health is central to all health and wellbeing and, like our physical health, is a resource we need to promote and protect. Everyone has mental health needs whether or not they have a diagnosis of a mental health problem. Poor mental health can impact on our capacity to manage, to communicate and form and sustain relationships. It can also affect our capacity to deal with change and with major life transitions. The theme of this year’s World Mental health Day on 10 October is ‘Depression: A Global Crisis’ and in the Southern Trust we have a number of projects in place to help adults and young people with depression and other mental illnesses.”

For further information on the Protect Life Resource Service in Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Dungannon and Newry and Mourne, contact AMH MensSana on 028 3839 2314 or PIPS Newry and Mourne on 028 3026 6195.

The provision of mental health services through a stepped care model, with most services being provided in the community by voluntary and community sector partners and community mental health teams is a key theme of the Transforming Your Care report.

In addition to the services provided by AMH MensSana and PIPS Newry & Mourne, Northern Ireland’s confidential 24 hour crisis helpline is Lifeline and it is for people of all ages, and their families, to use when experiencing distress or despair. Lifeline’s expert counsellors offer immediate support, providing free, local follow-up services within seven days. The Lifeline number is 0808 808 8000 and more information is available at

WMHD in Fermanagh


Last Year’s WMHD Health Fair in Fermanagh

AMH New Horizons Fermanagh have a whole week of events planned to celebrate World Mental Health Day.  On Monday 8th October they will be kicking off with a Health Fair, follwed by a Carer’s Event on Tuesday, Workshops for Young Adults on Wednesday, a Volunteer Celebration on Thursday and rounding off with a CSE celebration event for clients and staff on Friday – Phew!

Contact our Fermanagh unit for more information T02866323630. Check out and like the facebook page World Mental Health Day NI to see what else is going on.

“Don’t Lose Your Marbles”

Don’t Lose Your Marbles World Mental Health Day 2011


” Don’t Lose Your Marbles” is coming to The Great Hall in Parliament Buildings to mark World Mental Health Day. 

World Mental Health Day is observed annually in more than 100 countries on October 10 to raise public awareness about mental health issues

This year AMH will be organising a range of events all over Northern Ireland during the week of World Mental Health Day.

AMH will be bringing “The Great Push for Mental Health – Don’t Lose Your Marbles” event to The Great Hall in Stormont on 9th October, 1pm – 1.45pm. 

Last year “Don’t Lose Your Marbles” was held in Foyleside Shopping Centre. Various local sport teams, students and the general public took part in the obstacle race.

“Don’t Lose Your Marbles” is a fun event in which participants try to steer a number of marbles around an obstacle course using a broom.  The object is to try and hold on to all their marbles!

Each cone represents one of life’s obstacles such as debt, bereavement, or illness – events which can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.  The event is a fun way of celebrating World Mental Health Day and raising awareness of mental health. By being aware of our own mental health, we can build resilience to; and learn to cope better, with what life may throw at us. 

The event will be opened by the Speaker of the NI Assembly Willie Hay MLA and the compare will be Sue Ramsey MLA, Chair of the Health Committee.