By Frances Fitzgerald
The launch of Limerick Mental Health week took place in King John’s Castle on Sunday and saw a number of local organisations convene to promote a week of mental health awareness and education.
Labour deputy and former Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan, attended the launch in support of mental health awareness:
“The spreading of the message is the most important thing about mental health week. We all need to be willing to talk, and be willing to listen.
“It is something that really needs to be highlighted, because we still, unfortunately, have people who don’t feel that they can speak out if they are having mental health difficulties”, the Labour TD said.
Speaking about the upcoming budget and funds allocated to mental health, Ms O’Sullivan said that she would like to see a focus on spending in areas like mental health and childcare, services that “we don’t spend enough on in Ireland.”
Dr Jennifer McMahon, Chairperson of Limerick Mental Health Association and University of Limerick lecturer, highlighted the benefits of collaboration between organisations in Limerick:
“I think the week is the perfect example of how everyone can come together, work collectively and really make a difference. This week is a fantastic showcase for all the services we have in Limerick. Every year, it has gone from strength to strength”, said Dr McMahon.
Highlighting the importance of support in addressing and tackling mental health issues, Dr McMahon said: “Social support is one of the most important factors when it comes to mental health.
If we can get anything out of this week, it is to show people that if you can just hold the hand of somebody, if you can stand shoulder to shoulder with somebody, the storm may pass,” she finished.
Limerick comedian and ambassador for this year’s Limerick Mental Health week, Karl Spain addressed the crowd and urged people to seek help when necessary.
“It is good to get out there, it is good that we can talk.. One life saved, one life improved, is one huge leap. Depression and mental illness goes across the board. It doesn’t decide to just pick on a certain type of person, it’s everywhere,” said the comedian.
CEO of Blue Box Creative Learning Centre, Bernadette Kenny, spoke about the rising role of mental health awareness in children, particularly in young children.
“People think that little children don’t have mental health issues or anxiety, but with Blue Box we are seeing a lot more coming to us with anxiety issues, so it is great that mental health week is looking at children and adolescents.”
Project manager of Limerick Mental Health week, Patrick Fitzgerald, acknowledged the widespread effect that mental health issues can have on people and praised everyone involved in launching the week.
A series of events will run from October 9 to 16, ending in a family fun day at Redford Row in the city centre.
For a full list of upcoming events visit http://limerickmentalhealth.ie/ or www.facebook.com/Lkmha