Today I'm about talking about Aware, an Irish organisation who provide services to people affected by mental health. They do amazing work such as providing support to sufferers of depression and supporting the research of these kind of issues. This post is specifically going to be about the work they do with young people - Over the past two years Aware have been brought their Beat the Blues programme - a free positive mental health campaign - to more than 67,000 young people between the ages of 15-18 all over Ireland. This is an eighty minute programme which explains the importance of mental health, how to deal with it and where you can get help.
This is such an important programme for so many different reasons and it is needed. According to Aware.ie, up to 10% of teenagers are affected by depression at any one time and almost 75% of serious mental health cases first emerge between the ages of fifteen and twenty five. Those figures are startling enough but what is even more alarming is the stigma that still exists. People are hesitant to engage in a conversation about mental health openly and when they do it often ends up creating quite an awkward atmosphere. But without these issues being discussed how are teens supposed to learn about the importance of their mental health and how to recognise they're not okay and more importantly, who are teens supposed to turn to when are depressed but are hesitant to after past discussions on the topic ?
One step at a time, programmes like Beat The Blues are bringing us closer to dissolving the stigma and feeling comfortable enough to openly speak to each other about our mental health like we do about our physical health. It's teaching us teens the importance of a positive mental health and getting support. It is nothing to be ashamed of and nobody suffering from any form of mental illness should ever have to deal with it alone.
This week, the sixth years in school attended the programme and from what I've heard it was extremely helpful especially for dealing with exam stress. You can read more about the #BeattheBlues campaign here and if you are feeling depressed, Aware have a brilliant page about depression and young people here.
Please remember that you are never alone and it is always ok to ask for help.