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Looking towards the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections in May 2016, we are asking on behalf of our clients, their families, our sta­ff, and the voluntary sector, that the new Assembly and Executive commit to resolving the challenges facing mental health services in Northern Ireland.

Help make our 12 Christmas Wishes come true! Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

“Read Between the Lines”

A lived experience of schizophrenia

IMG_9171e1Pat Ross, in association with Action Mental Health, is embarking on an exciting year which began on World Mental Health Day with the launch of his art exhibition, “Read Between the Lines”, in The Play House Derry. The exhibition will go on tour to be displayed in a host of different venues across Northern Ireland including Magee University, Belfast International Airport, Belfast City Hall, Libraries NI, Parliament Buildings Stormont , The Guildhall Derry and many more .

In Pat’s words this is about “taking the bogey man out of schizophrenia.”

Pat gives us, the audience, an insight into his experience of living with schizophrenia. Pat’s work is courageously honest and thought provoking. Pat would consider the realisation of this body of work a success if it could go some way towards giving hope to others, be they relatives, carers or individuals new to the sometimes frightening and confusing world of schizophrenia.

Pat (49) moved from Scotland to Derry when he was five. His family lived in Chamberlain Street in the grip of The Troubles. In his own words, Pat would describe his experiences of growing up in Derry as being no different to that of any other child at that time, however the onset of his illness later in adult life would present many difficulties both for him and those closest to him.

He spoke about his personal experiences of coping with Schizophrenia.

“When I was ill words completely failed me. I couldn’t capture how I was feeling and could only communicate it through my art which helped relieve my feelings during my illness.”

“It has taken me pages and pages to try and describe one draining experience and the thoughts and feelings it evokes in my head. It is freeing to get them down on paper. Even in the depths of my illness I would get a good buzz after drawing.”

DSC_0116Mickie Harkin Service Manager of AMH New Horizons Foyle, summarised the exhibition as a once in a lifetime opportunity to view a body of work that is so personal and expertly drawn;

“These pieces would not look out of place in any art gallery anywhere in the world. Pat has done what others struggled to do – he has taken the not so often talked about illness and through his art, he has allowed us to visually understand his lived experience of a range of different psychological symptoms.”

He continued;

“Action Mental Health is very aware of the challenges and stigma which surround mental health. We are constantly lobbying, researching and campaigning to educate and empower people. We see this opportunity with Pat to be a very natural and positive partnership and are as excited and determined as Pat to ensure the public get to see that there is hope, as illustrated clearly in the exhibition.”


MEP Martina Anderson, artist Pat Ross and AMH Service Manager in Foyle Mickie Harkin

The exhibition will be in the Playhouse until 18th October, it will then go to Magee University and from there to the International Airport. Other venues such as Parliament Buildings and Belfast City Hall are being finalised and the tour will end this time next year in the Guild Hall Derry. For all the latest details follow us on twitter and facebook @amhNI.

A Great Granite Challenge

Gavin McConvey, Team AMH!
Gavin McConvey, Team AMH!

Once again the weather was kind to us and almost 200 cyclists set off from AMH in Downpatrick, along the coast via Dundrum and Newcastle, up, up, up to Spelga Dam and down the other side, through Maghera, Clough and home to a bowl of homemade soup!

Many thanks to everyone who took part, to all our volunteers, traybakers, sponsors and North Down Physios for massaging the weary legs.

Rather than tell you how fantastic it was, we’ll let the Granite Challengers speak for themselves ….

Brilliant event, looking forward to next year

Fantastic event thank you. I know route, safety etc. top priority but must say tray bakes at Spelga, soup and massages at the end were brilliant.





The Flurotrain AKA Dave Kane Cycles










Thanks to all at AMH for a great event – well signed and great marshalls, with outstanding tray bakes and food all round.

Looking forward to next year already, great cause

Many thanks for a well organised event with good signage, fabulous buns and tasty soup to finish! Thanks also to all the wonderful volunteers 🙂

A great turnout from North Down CC


Well done. Great event.

Great event, well organised and challenging every year, wee bit less wind would be nice. Happy participant

Very well organised cycle yesterday food stops fantastic & great goodie bag credit to all volunteers!

La Lanterne Rouge CC


Best buns ever!

Will defo be there next year great cause

Super day out…I think I speak for us all when I say it was a great run, super buns (esp jam and coconut) and all for a great cause. Thanks again

Great day out at the Granite Challenge….the climb to the top of Spelga gets no easier…at least there was tea and great buns to welcome us

a welcome sight after a long, long climb – Spelga Dam

This was an excellent sportive. It’s in my top three of the season and I would encourage anyone from our club to do it next year. Very reasonable price, fantastic route and outstanding buns… what more do u want!???

Great event! I’ve been annoying work colleagues all day talking about the awesome cake/jam/shortbread thingys!

Yes the cake/jam/shortbread was remarkable! Can these buy purchased?

Very enjoyable and well organised – thank you

Cake/jam/shortbread was worth doing the climb for!

My Rice Krispies brick was epic!

For lots more photos, like our AMH Events Facebook Page

Together for You

Celebrating World Mental Health Day

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon encourages David Babington, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health on the pedal powered smoothie bike!
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon encourages David Babington, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health on the pedal powered smoothie bike!

As part of World Mental Health Day, Together For You organised a mental health and wellbeing promotional event in CastleCourt, Belfast.  Together For You is a mental health and wellbeing project funded by the Big Lottery Fund.  The day was an opportunity to talk about mental health, and got off to a great start with a visit from the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon.  

The statistic of “1 in 4 (people will encounter some form of mental ill-health in their lifetime)” is widely used. By conducting a quick poll of customers in CastleCourt, and anecdotally talking to those within the centre, this statistic seemed to be accurate. The survey also showed that over 65% of people had accessed help or information on mental health for themselves or someone else.  Despite this, 22% said they do not feel comfortable talking about mental health, the main reason cited was being ‘worried what people might say’. 

David Babington, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health, lead partner of the Together For You project said

The CastleCourt event was a great success, a chance for us to talk to people about mental health and wellbeing. By talking about mental health we start to reduce the stigma which continues to be associated with it. This awareness raising is a big part of the Together For You project, in which all our partners contribute

 Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said:

We are delighted to see the difference that the Together for You partnership, which is promoting mental health and wellbeing, is making to people across Northern Ireland. This fantastic event in the heart of Belfast gave people a flavour of the services they offer, as well as encouraging them to talk about how they can look after their mental health.”

The day started with an arts and crafts session with a Year 11 class from The Belfast Boys Model School, with CRUSE as part of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Art and Film Festival (NIMHAFF). Following this, customers of CastleCourt were able to watch a ‘mood food’ cookery demo by Vital Nutrition, and also try out a sound therapies session, with the Sound Healing Spa. Spirits soared, with a music session by Whiteabbey Day Hospital Recovery Choir, and later in the evening from Tiernan Heffron, a Year 12 Student from St Benedict’s College, Randlestown and a beneficiary of the Together For You project via one the schools programmes. Thanks also go to Belfast Healthy Cities for bringing their pedal powered smoothie bike down for customers to make their own drinks, and to Ashton Community Centre for providing two of their complimentary therapists and providing head and hand massages for those passing through the shopping centre. Throughout the day everyone could enjoy the amazing art displayed in the centre, courtesy of the NIMHAFF.

Amanda Jones, Project Manager for Together For You said

It’s hard to believe that it was just a year ago that the Together For You project was launched.  To say that a lot has happened in that year would be a huge understatement. Along with recruiting staff, building websites and publishing newsletters, most importantly of all, Together For You’s services are already making a difference to people in need. So far over 8,600 people in Northern Ireland have benefited from the project, and that number rises every day. That is 8,600 people more likely to talk about their mental health to others, to seek help when they suffer mental Ill-health and to contribute to takling the stigma surrounding mental ill-health. Today in CastleCourt we built on that growing momentum with a fantastic promotional event, thank you to all who came to visit us”.


Table test 

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AMH Happy Video!

A survey by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that Northern Ireland is the happiest place to live in the UK. Four Northern Irish counties made it into the ‘happy five’, with Antrim taking the top spot, and AMH New Horizons in Antrim today launched a short film which proves it!

Over the summer months a film crew followed the staff and clients of AMH New Horizons Antrim as they took part in a range of activities offered to clients at the service and the result is their version of the popular viral craze; the “Happy video”.

Activities highlighted included surfing in Portrush, Tai Chi, gardening and guitar lessons while the video also shows the charity’s board members and staff getting into the spirit and renowned local entertainer Fiddler Adams dancing with the crowds at the Client Celebration Day at Crawfordsburn Country Park.

The “Happy video” craze has swept the globe this year from Belfast to Yemen, and AMH in Antrim decided it would be a great way to showcase the recovery work they do for local people tackling a range of mental ill-health problems and still managing to smile through their challenges. The video was appropriatelylaunched at a special event on Friday 3rd October in the run up to World Mental Health Day (10th October).

The activities featured also link to the charity’s overall campaign in recent years to showcase the link between getting active physically and staying mentally well. A range of amateur and racing events take place across Northern Ireland over the course of the year, culminating in their Granite Challenge cycling sportive on Sunday 5th October in Downpatrick.

Newry Employers “Mind Your Business”


AMH are holding an employment conference in Newry as part of their week of of events to mark World Mental Health Day.

“Mind Your Business” in the Canal Court Hotel on Wednesday 8th October will provide managers and business owners with guidance on how to support their staff’s mental wellbeing and create a culture which enables staff to remain productive, as well as providing an overview of the law surrounding these issues.

Corporate resilience is essential for businesses and services to survive and grow. To strengthen corporate resilience requires strengthening the resilience of the workforce, together with ensuring the cultural environment for the workforce clearly links the wellbeing of individuals to their performance and the performance of the organisation as a whole.

AMH’s Chief Executive David Babington explains;

“Stress and depression are at the highest levels they have ever been, and this is causing huge problems both to individual employees and the organisations they work for. Last year alone, mental health cost the Northern Ireland Economy £790 million. Mental health problems are also one of the largest contributing factors to long term absenteeism. Many individuals and organisations are facing uncertainty, job cuts and a period of great change, and against this background, keeping people engaged and performing well, can seem like an uphill battle.”

This year key note speakers include representatives of HSENI, The Law Centre, The Labour Relations Agency, Allstate Northern Ireland, Business in the Community, a Clinical Psychologist and Action Mental Health.

The event will take place on Wednesday 8th October 10am – 1pm at Canal Court Hotel, Newry. Places cost £30 per delegate and include lunch. Book your place online at w or call 028 9182 8494

Golfing at Lough Erne

The “Ryder Cup” has come to Fermanagh as Fermanagh New Horizons clients, staff and “Men’s Shedders” took part in golf lessons with the local pro at Lough Erne Golf Resort Academy.


Novices and more experienced golfers alike got into the “swing” of things.


Some balls were struck that cleanly we are still waiting for them to land, others were struck so wildly we are waiting for them to be found!!!


Everyone shared the craic and the experience was brilliant, with numbers growing each week.


A great learning experience which will be continuing to run for clients over the next few weeks in conjunction with Disability Sport NI.

AMH MensSana Challenge

To mark World Mental Health Day (10th October) AMH MensSana are asking all post primary schools across the Belfast, South Eastern, Southern, Northern Trusts and schools in Co Fermanagh and L’Derry to take part in the

‘AMH MensSana Five ways to Wellbeing Challenge’

from Monday 6th – Friday 10th October 2014, to raise awareness and promote positive mental health among students, and staff through the five concepts under Five Ways to Wellbeing.

  1. Take Notice
  2. Give
  3. Be Active
  4. Keep Learning
  5. Connect.


Five Ways to Wellbeing

We have provided a resource pack for each school and guidelines on how to get started and a Five Ways to Wellbeing Poster, we will have AMH MensSana Project Workers on hand offering guidance and support on how to up load activities captured by each school to AMH MensSana’s Facebook page.

We hope schools will have fun and we are really excited to see what students and staff get up to. We encourage all who participate to email us their photos which will be displayed on our Facebook pages. If schools have their own Facebook page AMH MensSana and AMH want to be your friend!