All posts by actionmentalhealth

Health in Mind Project Launched

Michelle Gildernew MLA & Michelle McIlveen MLA with Irene Knox from Libraries NI and some Tai Chi Instructors

The Health in Mind Project was launched in the Long Gallery at the Northern Ireland Assembly, on Wednesday 12th October, with joint support of the Northern Ireland Assembly Committees for Culture Arts and Leisure, and  Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Health in Mind is the result of a partnership between Libraries NI and four leading mental health charities: Action Mental Health, Aware Defeat Depression, Cause and MindWise and will provide services to people with low level mental health issues, their families, carers and the general public, to encourage awareness and an increase in self-help strategies.

The Health in Mind project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund (through the Live and Learn Programme) and seeks to raise awareness and understanding of good mental health and to promote opportunities to improve wellbeing through information, learning and reading.

Frances Dowds, Health in Mind Project Manager explains:

“Mental illness can affect anyone. At least one in five of the adult population in Northern Ireland suffers from a common mental health problem in any year. The programmes available through Health in Mind have a key focus on the provision of reading materials that promote early intervention and self-help strategies on a wide range of issues, from managing stress, anxiety and depression, to relaxation, fitness, nutrition and wellbeing.

 Good mental health and wellbeing materials will be promoted in libraries through activities, such as reading groups, a range of ‘top ten’ themed book lists, a dedicated Health in Mind website and interactive web based forum as well as a One Book Campaign. They will all be invaluable mechanisms in helping to challenge the stigma associated with mental illness while simultaneously raising public awareness.”

The Health In Mind project will be delivered in libraries and community venues across Northern Ireland and aims to make a particular impact in disadvantaged areas. It will promote the use of library resources and provide access to reliable information in the welcoming setting of a local library.

As Charles Eliot said,

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”

Irene Knox, Libraries NI Chief Executive states:

“Libraries NI is delighted to be part of this exciting Health in Mind programme, which is tasked with reducing the associated costs of poor mental health, along with increasing the use of a free and accessible public service that can offer help and information to members of the public, on how to improve health and wellbeing.

 “Libraries offer a free public service and are accessible venues for everyone across Northern Ireland and I would advise members of the public to check at their local library and on the Libraries NI website, for events, courses and learning opportunities, which will contribute to improving mental health and wellbeing.”

Under the banner of the Health In Mind Project,  Action Mental Health delivers I.T. training and extends opportunities for participants to develop their  ICT, personal development and essential skills and to achieve qualifications. AMH facilitates the production, dissemination and publication of case studies and personal testimonies of users of mental health services in order to tackle the stigma of mental illness.

for more photos of the launch visit our facebook page :

Pull up a seat for Mental Health Day 2011

Local mental health organisations from the Newtownards area, including AMH, undertook a ‘Stress Free Day’ event at Bloomfield Shopping Centre to raise awareness for World Mental Health Day on the 10th October.  
Fiona Molloy, Chairman of the World Mental Health Day Committee outlined :

‘We would encourage everyone to adopt the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ – Connect, Be active, Take Notice, Learn and Give! A review of the most up-to-date evidence suggests that building the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ into our day-to-day lives is important. By implementing these practical steps we can have a positive experience of life and start to feel good and function well.’

The purpose of this years event was to promote a simple guide to ‘Five ways to Well-Being’.  Several local mental health organisations were represented at the event, including Praxis Care, Action Mental Health, Samaritans, Mindwise, Growing Connections, Holywood Family Counselling, Fibromyalgia Support, Volunteer Now, Patient Client Council, YMCA and FASA in addition to staff from the south  Eastern Health and Social Care Trust’s Community Mental Health Team, Health Promotion Department and Patient Client Council.  Staff from the Job Centres Pathways Team were also on hand to provide advice to people with a disability who wished to return to employment.  
Mark Boyd, SE Trust kindly provided his time and expertise to check people’s blood pressure and provide advice on the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The event was a great success with many people availing of the opportunity to both relax and take time out from their shopping.  Information leaflets on ‘Five ways to Well-being’ were available and visitors to the stand were able to find out the ways in which they can access voluntary and statutory mental health services in the area.  For some people it was an opportunity to share their experiences of living with mental ill health and complement the organisations on the support they had received.
Deputy Mayor of North Down Councillor Leslie Cree commended the work of the various mental health organisations in the North Down area.  The Mayor had volunteered to have his blood pressure checked and looked relaxed as he read some of latest mental health and suicide support resources which have just been launched by the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust. Councillor Cree took the opportunity to review some of the mental health literature which was available on the stand. He also chatted to both staff from the various mental health organisations and visitors to the stand.
A representative from Bloomfield Shopping Centre outlined that they were delighted to support World Mental Health Day in this way.
The organisers thanked the staff from Bloomfield Shopping Centre and the representatives from the various mental health organisations who contributed to the success of the World Mental Health Day event.
The event was being run alongside a series of events the South Eastern HSC Trust World Mental Health Day Committee were co-ordinating.

John O’Dowd opens unit in Craigavon

AMH New Horizons Craigavon & Banbridge, welcomed local MLA John O’Dowd to open their new building at Tannaghmore Gardens in Craigavon. 

AMH New Horizons has been providing services to local people with mental health needs on the Tannaghmore site since 1999.  They offer a full range of training programmes and activities to support local people in their recovery from mental ill health.  AMH actively promotes positive mental health and wellbeing and their clients benefit from Vocational, Life Skills and Employment training tailored to suit their needs. Opportunities include NVQ Business Administration, NVQ Horticulture, IT (ECDL Advanced and Basic), Essential Skills, Personal Development including Anger and Anxiety Management, Employability, Art and Crafts and a range of physical activities in local venues to encourage social inclusion and independent use of community facilities.

In Tannaghmore the clients also run a fully functioning garden nursery which is open to the public, from which visitors can buy a range of plants, shrubs and trees. 

After a tour of the nursery, and a chat with Clients and Staff, special guest John O’Dowd MLA and an audience, which included; Chief Executive of the Southern HSC Trust, Mairead McAlinden; Chief Executive Craigavon Borough Council, Theresa Donaldson; Deputy Mayor of Craigavon, Cllr George Savage; AMH Chairman, Billy Kohner and AMH CEO, David Babington, listened to a brief overview of the New Horizons service from the Service Manager Colin Loughran and two former clients.  Guests then heard about the work of AMH MensSana from project worker Naomi Brownlee and were then treated to performance of “The King’s Son – A Fairytale” by its author Ann Donnelly, which features in their Provoking Thought workshop which they deliver in local schools to raise awareness of mental health issues.

 It was then with great pleasure that John O’Dowd MLA, officially opened the new AMH New Horizons building and said “ I am proud to be associated with AMH and honoured to be here”.

AMH Annual Report 2010/2011 Published

Our Annual Report for 2010/2011  is hot off the press and can be downloaded here.

“It has been a challenging year, with reductions in public spending and uncertainty over the future of the health sector, but AMH clients and staff have responded to challenges posed by these wider problems remarkably, taking them in their stride in a calm and professional way”.  David Babington CEO

If you would like a copy of the report please e-mail Carol Chesney.

Run for AMH in the Belfast Marathon 2012

The Belfast Marathon 2012 will take place on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May. Why not be one of the 20,000+ competitors  expected to take part and raise money for AMH at the same time!

There are a number of options:

The Marathon Run/Wheelchair Marathon – 26.2 miles (18 years +)

The Marathon Walk – 9 miles or 26.2 miles (16years+)

The Team Relay (16 years +) – This event is open to teams of two to five people and teams can be all-male, all-female or mixed (combination of males and females). 

The team relay is split into five parts. The following distances are approximate;

  • 6 miles
  • 3.5 miles
  • 7.1 miles
  • 5.3 miles
  • 4.3 miles

The Fun Run – 3 miles (no minimum age, under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult)

If you would like more information please contact Gavin McConvey

Great Push for Mental Health ….

World Mental Health Day

10th October 2011

12noon – 2pm

Public Event: Foyleside Shopping Centre

Great Push for Mental Health … “don’t loose your marbles….”


AMH New Horizons Foyle is hosting a local event for World Mental Health Day, come along and join in the fun and get behind the “big push”.

“The Great Push : Investing in Mental Health is this year’s theme for World Mental Health Day 

Action Mental Health continues to push the vision of a world where mental health is a priority for all people.  AMH aims to assist people who have experience of mental ill health to lead independent and productive lives.

By offering a relaxed environment, AMH helps people to develop not only practical skills, but also the confidence and self esteem that they may have lost through illness.

AMH New Horizons Foyle, Unit 13 Springtown Industrial Estate, Derry, BT48 0LY,

 T 028 71373502   E

Coping with Student Life

Beginning student life for the first can be really exciting, but it can also be a time of anxiety and stress. This is a time often associated with many changes in a short period of time. As part of a series of articles by AMH MensSana aiming to support young people, this article will discuss some of the feeling and experiences you are likely to encounter as a new student. We hope that this article will suggest some helpful ways to cope with change and stress and provide some advice on simple ways you can help make the transition into student life as easy as possible.

What changes should I expect?

Leaving home:

If you are planning to go to university straight from school then it is likely that you are facing the change of leaving home for the first time. This can be a time of excitement as you begin to imagine a care free fun-filled adventure with little stress or responsibility. At the same time, for many young people the pressure to adapt to an entirely new set of surroundings, people and independence, can leave them feeling lost and confused. But remember, a little bit of change every now and then is good. Overcoming fears and accomplishing things alone can bring a great sense of achievement and independence.

New opportunities:

There will be many organisation, societies and social events that will be available to you especially as a fresher. While this can be exciting it can be a scary experience to try new things and meet new people. An important part of university is about developing your own identity and abilities so do not be afraid to step out and try new things. Remember, however, to recognise that now you are in charge of your own time management. It can be tempting to take on many different things but only commit to what you can manage. Recognise how much you are dealing with at one time and go at your own pace.

Family relationships:

Maybe you are the first to go to university in your family and this can be a big change for your parents and siblings, or maybe other siblings have already been or are at university and you may be feeling pressure to live up to expectations and their successes. One of the most important things to do when coping with changing family relationships is to communicate and acknowledge that these feelings exist. Sharing how you are feeling can be a really important way of coping with leaving home for the first time.

Practical advice:

At university you will be responsible for looking after your accommodation, finances and travel. Remember to ask for help from other students and support provided for you by your university. If possible, you will also find it helpful to attend freshers week at your university. During this week there will be campus tours, opportunities to meet other students and advice and information about what to expect during your course. Find out the location of the students’ advice centre and students’ union at your university as this will be a good place to find out more information.

Meet people:

Most people in first year will be newcomers and will be keen to meet new people and make friends. Loneliness can make the challenges of leaving home seem even harder. Take advantages of the social events available especially at the beginning of your first semester. Taking time to get to know the people who live with you in your halls of residence can also make your experience easier. If you are shy, you might find it harder to join in. Remember, however, that many students will be feeling nervous too. Find things that your university offer that interest you such as music or sports societies. This will help you meet people who have common interests and you will find making conversation easier.

Coping with academic work:

For most young people, university work can be a significant change from school. You will find it helpful to use the first few weeks of the semester to get the right information and ask lots of questions. Find out your timetable, what assignments you are expected to do and what resources are available, for example which library should you use (most universities offer library tours during freshers week which are a good way of exploring how to use the computer system and library services).

Get a diary and make yourself a realistic timetable for term time. When you are assigned a task, estimate how long you think it will take you. Thinking ahead allows you to prepare and will ensure that you have plenty of time to complete and submit work which is to the best of your ability. If you find that your work is getting too much for you it is important to recognise this as early as possible so that you do not fall too far behind. Your tutors, students’ union and student guidance centre are there to support you so do not be afraid of asking for advice and support.


For the first time you may find that you are responsibility for your managing your money and making sure that you use your student loan wisely. One of the most effective ways of looking after your money is to make a budget. Budgeting gives you an accurate picture of your money situation, and helps you know what is coming in and what is going out. This is a record which compares how much you earn with how much you spend. It is a good idea for knowing how much money you are spending. If you are finding it difficult to keep your spending under control, a budget planner is also a way to show you if you need to cut back on how much you spend on certain things. To develop a budget you need to:

1)     Calculate your total income e.g. salary, benefits, money from parents.

2)     Calculate how much you currently spend on a monthly basis. Be honest for this part as it will be an important element for your budget. If you are finding this hard you could keep a spending diary over a week/month – recording how much you spend and on what.

3)     Once you have calculated both your income and spending, work out the difference. If you find that you are spending more than you earn, you need to take steps to change this.


For many young people, going to university can be the first time that they have been away from home. While it is one of the most important things to do, eating a healthy diet can sometimes be neglected. If you have never had experience cooking for yourself before it can be a daunting experience. Perhaps, when you get settled into your accommodation you could cook with others who live in you flat. You might also find it helpful to use the student canteens and restaurants especially at the beginning.

Remember feeling nervous is normal as you face leaving home for the first time, but remember this is also an exciting time where you can try new activities and meet new people. There are lots of people around who can help you, give you advice and support you while you go through new experiences.

Asking for help is a good thing to do, but can be scary. You may prefer to speak to someone you don’t know, like a counsellor or helpline dedicated to supporting young people in your situation.

If you would like further information on local organisations and sources of support, please do not hesitate to contact us at AMH MensSana on 02838 392314 or e-mail Confidentiality will be respected at all times.