People can learn about the facts and myths surrounding mental health at a special tent available during the Volco Ocean Race.
The initiative, the brainchild of the HSE’s mental health service in Galway in conjunction with See Change [an alliance of organisations working together to bring about positive change in public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems], is promoting positive mental health and working to reduce stigma. It will be showcased during the race, which runs until Sunday.
The health service is working with key mental health providers in Galway to highlight what can be done to reduce stigma and improve people’s mental health.
With an estimated footfall of 800,000 people, the the HSE West says the Volvo Ocean Race presents an ideal opportunity for its mental health service to promote mental health in a positive light.
Speaking at the official launch the then Mayor of Galway city Cllr Hildegard Naughton said one in four people will experience a mental health difficulty at some stage in their lifetime.
“Stigma has been shown to be a major barrier preventing people from seeking help. Many people living with a mental illness say the stigma they face is often worse than the illness itself. I welcome this initiative which will raise awareness for visitors to the Volvo Ocean Race village.”
Kahlil Thompson-Coyle from See Change, said the organisation is delighted to collaborate with 15 Galway-based groups on this “huge opportunity” to engage the festival’s 800,000 visitors on the subject of mental health. It is also an opportunity to launch an open and positive conversation about our attitudes, wellbeing and the supports that are available nationwide.”
Ciaran Lynch of the HSE West’s Galway Mental Health Services, stated it wanted people to know “its OK not to be OK”.
“We want people to know that there is help out there for them. We want people to talk to someone and let them know if they need some help or support. As mental health practitioners we know that being part of the community and getting support from friends and family is important.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the many local mental health groups in Galway who do such great work. We want to welcome people into our marquee at the Volvo Ocean Race and ask them to help us to build a foundation for positive mental health by writing a positive message and placing it on our mental health wall. At the event we will also be asking people to show their pledge to improving mental health by wearing a green ribbon - the symbol of the Mental Health Matters project.”
Visitors to the tent will learn the facts and myths about mental health and will be given a wallet card with key tips to good mental health.
“We want to encourage everyone who comes into the tent to help us build a foundation for positive mental health by contributing to our wall of mental health and to pledge to make a difference by ringing someone and asking how they are. The main thing to remember is not to be afraid to ask for help, talk to someone - people listen and may relate with empathy.”