Tag Archives: Action Mental Health

Action Mental Health Festive Splash 2023

Our amazing fundraisers dared to dip for mental health on Sunday 3 December!

We were delighted to return to to Crawfordsburn Country Park for Action Mental Health’s Festive Splash, uniting with friends from all over Northern Ireland to raise vital funds for our mental health services.

Together, our brave splashers have already raised over £9,000 with more still coming in. This money will have a direct impact on local people experiencing mental health challenges this Christmas and beyond.

So, we want to say an enormous THANK YOU to you – fundraisers, volunteers, supporters. You truly have made an incredible difference.

Enjoy some of these moments captured by our team on the day!

Dealing with exam results stress

The stress levels of school children and students start to rise as they approach exam results days, often with fear and trepidation. Action Mental Health is offering young people and families support and tips on getting prepared and learning to recognise and deal with exam results stress.

It is normal to feel a bit worried about exam results, especially if you’re under pressure from school or family. It can cause you to feel anxious or depressed, and this might affect your sleeping or eating habits. 

If you recognise any of these feelings or are worried that exam results pressure is taking over your life, you are not alone, and there are things you and those around you can do to help.

In this article, we highlight some useful tips to help you overcome the feelings you may have about your exam results.

Symptoms of excessive stress include:

  • Physical effects such as headaches, dizziness and stomach upset.
  • Being preoccupied with thoughts of exams and feeling unable to relax.
  • Becoming withdrawn from friends, family and hobbies.
  • Constant tiredness due to problems sleeping.
  • Loss of appetite or over-eating.
  • Seeing only the negative side of things.
  • Becoming more aggressive and short-tempered with those around you.
  • Feeling so low and desperate that you are considering stopping school, running away or harming yourself.

If you can relate to any of these feelings, it is important to seek support.  There are a number of services which AMH MensSana can sign-post you to that offer help and advice or you may find support from friends, family or someone at school – it doesn’t matter who, but it is important to speak to someone.

For young people

Check out our list of tips and techniques to help you deal with results day stress. Different things work for everyone so try some out and choose the ones that work best for you.

1. Talk to people around you

Try not to bottle up your feelings. Mental health issues aren’t uncommon among students, so you’ll likely know others who are struggling. Your parents or older relatives may have also felt the same sort of emotions waiting for their results. Sometimes just talking about your anxieties out loud can help ease the burden. 

2. Plan for the best and worst outcomes

Exams don’t always go to plan, and you might not get the grades you need. Make sure you’ve researched what to do on results day but don’t dwell on the worst-case scenario. Think of a way to celebrate with friends and family if you do get the results you need. Even if your grades aren’t great, you still deserve to do something nice.

3. Maintain a normal routine

Try not to let waiting for your exams take over your summer. Keep yourself as busy as possible to distract yourself from results day stress. If you have hobbies, keep up with them and try to stick with any plans you’ve made, such as holidays and spending time with friends.

4. Have someone with you when you get your results

Have someone with you on the day to offer reassurance, talk through options if your results aren’t what you wanted, and hopefully celebrate your success. This could be a parent, guardian, sibling, friend, or even a teacher.

5. Don’t feel like you have to open your results with friends or share what you got

There can be a lot of peer pressure to open results at the same time and share what you got with everyone, but you don’t have to. You can collect your results and open them at home to avoid this scenario. Many schools and colleges will also publish results online or offer a text results service.

6. Don’t compete or compare your results with others

A common feature of results day is students sharing their results on social media and this can lead to comparing your results unfavourably. It may help to avoid social media completely for a few days.

Remember to judge your success by your own standards. If you know you worked hard for your grades, but your friend got higher ones, that doesn’t make your achievement any less impressive.

Supporting someone experiencing exam results stress

Young people will find stress much easier to deal with if they receive support from those around them.  As a parent/guardian you can help and support a young person by:

  • Taking an interest in their study by offering encouragement and support – try not to criticise or place added pressure on them.
  • Praising and encouraging their efforts and achievements can be motivating and demonstrates your support for them.
  • Try to keep things in perspective and encourage them to do the same – remember that exam results are not the only indicator of a young person’s capabilities.

Taking exams and getting your exam results can be a worrying time.  It can seem like your future depends on what you get.  Receiving disappointing results can feel like the end of the world, but it is important to remember that people’s strengths and weaknesses lie in different areas and not everyone performs at their best under exam conditions.

The results you receive do not have to define what you do or who you are in the future. 

Learning Disability Week 2022 is here! Join us this week (20 – 26 June) in raising awareness of what life is like if you have a learning disability.

This year’s theme of ‘Living Life with a Learning Disability’ will show how people with a learning disability are reconnecting with friends and their communities. We are also highlighting the issues many people still face after the end of COVID restrictions such as dealing with poor mental health and anxiety.

Each year, the aim of Learning Disability Week is to:

– Smash stigmas and end discrimination

– Fight and campaign for a fair society

– Educate and raise awareness about learning disabilities

We will be celebrating Learning Disability Week by highlighting – AMH Promote, based in Bangor, Co. Down, and the many positive stories and incredible talent witnessed on a daily basis at our fantastic training facility. The service offers a wealth of educational opportunities for local adults with learning disabilities.

AMH Promote provides opportunities for adults with a learning disability to be socially active and develop new skills in a supportive and engaging environment.

AMH Promote’s training is delivered through a day opportunities service, which focuses on the personal development of clients. Courses such as those with ASDAN and OCN NI certificates, cover a diversity of topics such as Self Advocacy, Meal Preparation, Independent Living skills, Sports Studies, Personal & Social Development (PSD), computer skills, digital photography, baking skills, horticulture, communication skills, and crafts.

Above all, AMH Promote’s caring environment nurtures confidence and independence, with many clients not only enjoying new hobbies, creative activities and careers but importantly, making lasting lifelong friendships as they learn. The clients here are enjoying getting to reconnect face-to-face with their friends since the easing of COVID restrictions.

For more information about AMH Promote download their information leaflet, follow them on facebook and tune into our social media challenges all this week!

Loneliness Awareness Week 2022 – Top tips to keep loneliness at bay

Everybody feels lonely from time to time. Most people think loneliness is when our need for social contact and relationships is not being met. However, loneliness does not mean being alone. Loneliness can still occur when you have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship because you may feel misunderstood or uncared for by people.  

Loneliness itself isn’t a mental health problem. However the two are strongly linked.

Top tips to reducing loneliness

Someone who’s lonely probably also finds it hard to reach out. There’s a stigma surrounding loneliness, and people tend not to ask for help because they have too much pride. But it’s important to remember loneliness can – and does – affect anyone, of any age.

To mark Loneliness Awareness Week 2022, we are sharing some ideas of things you can do to help tackle loneliness.

  • Smile, even if it feels hard – Grab every chance to smile at others or begin a conversation – for instance, with the cashier at the shop or the person next to you in the GP waiting room. If you’re shy or not sure what to say, try asking people about themselves.
  • Invite friends for tea – If you’re feeling down and alone, it’s tempting to think nobody wants to visit you. But often friends, family and neighbours will appreciate receiving an invitation to come and spend some time with you.
  • Keep in touch by phone – Having a chat with a friend or relative over the phone can be the next best thing to being with them.
  • Learn to love computers – If your friends and family live far away, a good way to stay in touch is by using a computer or tablet. Libraries and community centres often hold regular training courses to learn basic computer skills – as well as being a good place to meet and spend time with others in their own right.
  • Get involved in local community activities – These will vary according to where you live, but the chances are you’ll have access to a singing or walking group, book clubs, bridge, bingo, quiz nights and faith groups.
  • Fill your diary – It can help you feel less lonely if you plan the week ahead and put things in your diary to look forward to each day, such as a walk in the park or going to a local coffee shop, library, sports centre or cinema.
  • Get out and about – Don’t wait for people to come and see you, travel to visit them.
  • Help others – Use the knowledge and experience you have gained to give something back to your community.

Big lunch 2022 – SES Better Together

Supported Employment Solutions (SES) consortium hosted their very own Big Lunch on Wednesday 1st June 2022, at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, Belfast. Luckily, the rain stayed off and the beautiful scenes and fresh air was enjoyed by everyone.

There were people from each of the partner organisations, treats (Loaf catering), drinks, plenty of smiles and lawn games!!! The Eden project provided flower seeds with their Big Lunch Pack, the SES consortium planted these as a group, reflecting the strength of an overall approach to Specialist Employment Support.

The SES Big Lunch event provided an opportunity for participants of the Workable NI Programme to come together and share experiences, as well as the chance for employers to meet and learn more about how supported employment has worked for them.

The consortium, comprised of: Action Mental Health; RNID; RNIB; Mencap; NOW Group; Orchardville and Cedar Foundation, offer a supported employment approach in the delivery of programmes to assist people with disabilities and health conditions to enter and stay in employment. RNID will be replaced by AdaptNI from 1st July 2022. The consortium delivers the Workable NI Programme, funded by Department for Communities. In delivering Workable NI, each of the partner organisations offers specialist, tailored support to both disabled individuals and their employers, better together!

The SES Big Lunch event provided an opportunity for participants of the Workable NI Programme to come together and share experiences, as well as the chance for employers to meet and learn more about how supported employment has worked for them.

If you’re a disabled person who is keen to explore the support available, or an employer who would like to understand more information on the Workable NI Programme or how to recruit and retain disabled staff, please email [email protected]

Thanks to the Eden Project and Loaf Catering

SES – Better Together

About Us | Supported Employment Solutions (sesni.org.uk)

The Workable Programme is delivered by seven disability organisations working together through the Supported Employment Solutions (SES) partnership. SES delivers programmes to assist people with disabilities and health conditions to enter and stay in employment. The Workable Programme is funded by the Department for Communities

AMH New Horizons client and OCN awards finalist, Joanna, is bursting with passion and creativity!

Joanna is taking part in the Working it Out project at AMH New Horizons Ards & North Down The OCN Level 1 Mixed Media art student, Joanna, was recently shortlisted in two categories at the OCN awards. She was Highly Commended in Health and Wellbeing Learner of the Year and also Highly Commended in Third Sector Learner of the Year.

Joanna started at AMH New Horizons shy, easily overwhelmed, and lacking in self-confidence and self-belief. But now, she can lose herself in creativity. She has had to overcome tough and demanding physical, mental and emotional impacts of anxiety. She is a wonderful example of what can be achieved by facing your fears, riding out uncomfortable sensations/feelings, to commit to something important to you. Joanna’s strength throughout the OCN course has been her determination to overcome her anxiety and build a future where she is achieving her dreams.

Pauline Matthew, Skills Coach at AMH New Horizons, described the joy she has gained from helping Joanna throughout the course:

“Joanna’s journey was magical to watch. Seeing her light up, speak passionately and positively to other students about her work – lit the touchpaper to Joanna’s increased self-belief in her ability to not only create great art but to take pride in it, own it and believe in herself.

She has pushed through, forced herself to sit with the uncomfortable, overcoming fears, anxiety and emotions to contribute to the classes and to create meaningful, personal and beautiful art.”

Joanna is continuing to push herself beyond her comfort boundaries, sharing her thoughts, promoting ideas and proposals for better or more creative ways of working.

The “Working it Out” project 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.

ChatPal – a mental health chatbot that can help tackle loneliness and isolation for people living in rural areas

The theme for Mental Health Awareness 2022 is tackling loneliness and the impact it can have on our mental health and wellbeing. One of the projects that Action Mental Health is involved with is ChatPal, a mental health chatbot. The project is being led by Ulster University and Courtney Potts, a Research Associate at the University explains a bit more about the project and how it aims to tackle loneliness and isolation for people living in rural areas:

The ChatPal project includes the development and trailing of a multilingual mental health app – the ChatPal chatbot. Ulster University and Action Mental Health are involved in the project, along with other European partners in the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Finland, and Sweden. The ChatPal chatbot promotes positive mental wellbeing of individuals and is targeted at those living in sparsely populated areas.

At the beginning of the project, workshops were held with health professionals, mental health service users and university staff/ students. The purpose of these workshops was to find out what people want and need from a mental health chatbot, and what professionals would support. The aim was to work with these groups to co-design and co-produce the chatbot. During the workshops, the topic of loneliness was discussed given this can affect people living in rural areas. One participant said:

“As an older person experiencing social isolation, I want a friendly chatbot to talk to about my interests so I can feel less lonely & I can feel some degree of companionship in my home”

Users can converse with ChatPal to learn about the causes of loneliness, and the chatbot can provide tips to help people manage these feelings.  In ChatPal you can also find relevant mental health information, exercises, simple monitoring and self-care tools, and where to go to access additional mental health support.

The goal for ChatPal is not to replace traditional services, but instead to make them better, more inclusive, streamlined, scalable, and sustainable. The ChatPal chatbot can be used as part of a blended service offering, that can add to in-person sessions as opposed to replacing them. It can also be used as a general health promotion tool, allowing the general population to look after their own mental wellbeing.

Read more about the project: https://chatpal.interreg-npa.eu

Download the ChatPal app

Android devices: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chatpalmobile  

Apple devices: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/chatpal-psychology-chatbot/id1559939491  

This funding source for this project is the Interreg VB Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme under the grant for Conversational Interfaces Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing of People in Sparsely Populated Areas (ChatPal) project number 345.

Covid, stress and returning to the workplace. Let’s make it positive!

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and we are looking at ways of tackling the impact of loneliness on our mental health and wellbeing. Working patterns for many of us have changed, since the start of the pandemic and many people have found this has caused a multitude of issues including loneliness and isolation.

AMH Works has provided some great tips on how to adapt to new ways of working.

Being in work is important for everyone’s general health and wellbeing: it gives us a purpose (and an income), promotes independence, allows us to develop social contacts, and is a factor in preventing both physical and mental health problems (WHO).

Many people found themselves in the position of having to work from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This brought with it a lot of stressful and new challenges such as a lack of structure, distractions, blurred boundaries and isolation; affecting mental health and your wellbeing. It was very natural to have feelings of frustration, loneliness, worry, or concern for yourself and those close to you. Now that the world is changing and workplaces are starting to return we might find ourselves worried about change again. The four A’s is a helpful tool for proactive stress management and limiting the pressure you take on. Here is how you could use it to help you stress less and ease into the transition of hybrid working;

The four A’s; Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept


It’s important to remember, that it’s not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed but you may be surprised by the number of pressures and stressors in your life you can reduce and take control of.

It’s ok to say no: Know your own limits, ensure that you are not taking too much on, and it’s important to practice self-care.

Avoid people who cause you stress: It’s ok to avoid the people who cause you unnecessary stress, you might want to take some time apart from that person or even end the relationship.

Control your environment: Taking control of your environment can help alleviate pressure, we live on a notified and anxious planet, ration social media and the news. If the morning commute might cause you to worry, try listening to your favourite music or a podcast to create less stress and promote a greater sense of peace and control.


Sometimes you can’t avoid a stressful situation but you can alter it.

Speak your mind: It’s okay to voice how you are feeling in a respectful manner, practise becoming more assertive to ensure your worries and concerns are heard. Try to tackle the problem early to avoid the situation from escalating.

Finding the middle ground: Be willing to compromise and also change some things about yourself in order to find a happy outcome for all parties.

All work and no play?: The Five Ways to Wellbeing provide five key steps that you can take as your mental ‘five-a-day’ to contribute to your overall wellbeing. Strive to set time aside to practice the ‘five-a-day’ and invest in self-care.


If you can’t change the stressful situation you can learn to adapt. You can challenge unhelpful thinking patterns and gain perspective.

Reframe: viewing a stressful situation in the current situation positively might be tough, but it’s important to take time to pause and reflect. Try to challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts.

Perspective: Take time to reflect on perspective V reality. Ask yourself; will it matter next week? A month? A year?

Self-Standard: are you setting yourself unreasonable goals? Do others expect this from you? Learn ways to be ok with not being perfect and being ‘good enough’. Creating a ‘good enough’ mindset that isn’t filled with unrealistic expectations will help you cultivate a sense of wellbeing.


Some situations maybe are unavoidable and out of our control. In such cases, it is important to remember we have to cope with stress by acceptance. It can be very difficult to do but it can present you with more time to focus your energy on taking care of yourself!

Keep talking: sharing your feelings and expressing your thoughts is more important than ever, talk to a colleague, a trusted friend, a councillor or your GP.

Stay positive: reflect on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and challenge negative situations by practising the four A’s. Take time to reflect and gain perspective.

AMH Works provide a range of programmes which support employers to improve mental and emotional wellbeing in the workplace and create Healthy, Resilient Workplaces, to find out more contact AMH Works Manager, Shelly Wilson on 07540124083 or [email protected].

There will be times when extra support is needed, if you’re finding things really difficult you might want to speak to your line manager, a GP, Lifeline or Samaritans. Further information on sources of support is available on www.amh.org.uk.