Week Five of Healthy Town to focus on mental health in teens

Dessie Dolan, GAA player and Healthy Town ambassador, pictured with Ellie Moonie (8), TJ Ormond (6), and Chloe Walshe (6) Photo: molloyphotography

Dessie Dolan, GAA player and Healthy Town ambassador, pictured with Ellie Moonie (8), TJ Ormond (6), and Chloe Walshe (6) Photo: molloyphotography

Teenagers in Athlone list bullying, family, and stressful times as key concerns for them in their daily life, while one in six young people between 11 and 13 experience mental health issues.

Week five of The Irish Times and Pfizer Healthy Town will focus on addressing key mental health concerns for young people and their parents. On Wednesday, October 7, psychotherapist, trainer, mediator, and consultant, Trish Murphy, will give a free public talk on mental health at 7pm in the Sheraton Athlone Hotel

Speaking about her involvement in The Irish Times and Pfizer Healthy Town initiative, Ms Murphy said: “All of us suffer from mental health problems at times, and these temporary problems do not necessarily lead to mental illness. However, if we don’t address problems they may lead to more serious problems.

“Teenagers are particularly under threat of mental health problems as they face pressures in school and family life, and can also face conflict issues both in person and online. The Irish Times and Pfizer Healthy Town programme offers people a chance to get involved in the community and improve their health and wellbeing along the way.”

Teenagers are surrounded by challenges that can affect their mental health. These include self-image, school pressures, family, bullying, death, peer pressure, relationships with boyfriends and girlfriends, and isolation.

Key tips for looking after your mental health include:

Limit your use of social media. An unhealthy addiction to social networking sites is associated with mental health issues, low self-esteem, and physical inactivity in addition to other social problems;

Avoid isolation: 60 per cent of the population live in rural areas which can result in social isolation. Regularly meet up with friends and family and plan social activities on a regular basis.

Exercise: exercise helps to improve mood, reduce stress and boost energy levels. Exercise can also be a good way to meet people and get more involved in your community;

Relax: Do something that helps you to relax. It might be listening to music, going for a walk, tea with friends, yoga, reading or watching TV.

There are a range of activities happening during Healthy Town including: Free public talks each week on a range of topics; running club training in the Regional Sports Centre every Monday at 7pm; hell and back training for teenagers every Monday in the Regional Sports Centre from 5-5.45pm; free spinning class each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7.30-8.30am; and a free parkrun in Athlone Institute of Technology every Saturday at 9.30am.

A dedicated microsite for Healthy Town can be viewed at www.irishtimes.com/healthytown The site will be regularly updated with details of local events and activities taking place in Athlone Town. To register for any of the free public talks email [email protected] or phone (01 ) 6690165.

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