Mental Health And Suicide Awareness Public Information Campaign Re-Launches

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Northern Ireland has re-launched a major public information campaign aimed at de-stigmatising mental health.

The 'Minding Your Head' campaign encourages young people to discuss their problems and seek help and promotes suicide awareness.

Mr McGimpsey said: "Suicide is a tragedy that affects too many people in our society. It has a devastating impact on families, friends and communities. The recent clusters of suicide, especially among our young people, highlighted that we need to do much more to encourage young people to talk about their problems, with whoever they feel comfortable speaking to, and to seek help when they are in crisis.

"Today I am re-launching a major public information campaign which aims to do just that. The campaign highlights how mental illness can affect anyone and that taking control of our mental health by even simple measures such as talking about our problems or doing physical activity can make a real difference.

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"Research shows that poor mental health is often a contributory factor in many local suicides, and I feel we need to do more to promote good mental health and well-being in Northern Ireland. The Promoting Mental Health Strategy and Action Plan is currently being reviewed, and it is critical that this Strategy is taken forward in parallel with the Suicide Prevention Strategy."

The information campaign is being taken forward as part of the implementation of the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, "Protect Life - A Shared Vision". It highlights the need to reduce the stigma around the issue of mental health, in order to get people talking about their problems, and therefore reducing the likelihood of them going to take their own lives.

Dr Brian Gaffney, Chief Executive of the Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland who was commissioned to develop and roll out this campaign, also stated: "Mental health is part of and essential to our overall health and well-being, so it must be nurtured and protected. Research shows that at least one in five people here suffer from a mental health problem but very few are willing to talk about it openly so raising awareness of the issue is essential.

"People's attitudes to mental health are often based on fear or embarrassment. Stigma around mental health can lead to problems being unrecognised or people feeling apart from others which prevents them from seeking help and inhibits their recovery. We tend to think we have no control over our mental health but that is not true. We can protect our mental health by talking about worries or concerns to a friend, family member or doctor.

"Sharing a worry instead of keeping it to yourself can lighten the burden you feel you are carrying everyday. The campaign also has a dedicated website which is packed with information for all age ranges and contains details for support groups and organisations throughout Northern Ireland which people can contact for advice."

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