The Irish Times speaks with ambassador Nigel

May 12th, 2010

A few snippets from the Irish Times article on published Tuesday May 1th:

APPROACHING EXAM-TIME in college, Nigel O’Callaghan all too often sees the anxiety, fear and stress building up in his friends and classmates.

“You see people putting themselves under savage pressure,” says O’Callaghan, a 22-year-old student in University College Cork.

“Some can handle it, and that’s fine. But you see others becoming reclusive, they might stop going out altogether, their health starts suffering. You’d worry about them, really.”

Anxiety, depression, self-harm or even suicidal thoughts are well documented by mental health experts who work with students. But one of the biggest problems is that few are willing to share their feelings with friends.

‘There’s still a a big stigma over mental health problems. The old stereotype of the big psychiatric ward or old-style mental hospital is still there, or going to see a ‘shrink’ in the college is a big deal,” says O’Callaghan.

“Too many people bottle it up, which is the worst thing they can do.

“It’s a bit of a cliche, but a problem shared is a problem halved. But lots of people feel they can’t do that.”

It was against this backdrop that was launched last year.

It’s an independent, non-profit initiative which focuses on the myth of perfect normality, recognising that everyone goes through tough times.

It presents mental health issues in an accessible way through fact sheets, blogs and young people’s stories about mental health, wellbeing and getting through tough times.

The focus of the service is on empowering young people to get the information and help they need early on. Content is overseen by mental health experts, so young people can be confident of the quality of the information.

Read the full article here.