Secret Millionaire Jim Breen lauded Ballina’s St Mary’s Secondary School for its “outstanding” welcome on Monday last, April 29, when hundreds of cyclists rolled into the north Mayo capital for the national Cycle Against Suicide.
Led by Mr Breen, the CEO of Pulse Learning, he told the 600-strong student cohort: “The welcome we have received here has delivered the message of positive mental health. It has boosted our mental health today. The message we are spreading is ‘it’s OK not to feel OK, and it’s more than OK to ask for help’ and that message is loud and clear here today in Ballina.”
Addressing invited guests, students, teachers, and the wider community, the television personality and business man, outlined his own personal story of depression and mental health issues, and the legacy of his Secret Millionaire show, which saw thousands of cyclists taking to the highways and byways of the country in an anti-suicide awareness campaign.
Echoing his message of positive mental health was Joseph Dixon, who lost his son to suicide, accompanied by two other speakers who gave a personal and very powerful presentation on the importance of TLC - talking, listening, and calling for help.
St Mary’s Secondary School principal, Mrs Patsy Sweeney, said the school was “honoured” to welcome the participants. “This is a very special event for St Mary’s and we are proud to spread the message that it is OK not to feel OK,” she said.
Paying tribute to the wider community of Ballina, she added: “If ever we needed proof that Ballina is a powerful place, then today is certainly the evidence. The response of the town has been absolutely overwhelming with sponsorship coming from an endless list of businesses in the community. The minute the message of suicide prevention was mentioned, the people came out in huge numbers to support us and for that we are eternally grateful. The response has been truly incredible.”
The all-girls secondary school was chosen as one of just 28 anchor stops across Ireland over the duration of the two week cycle in association with the 2fm Colm Hayes show. As part of the Ballina stop off, cyclists were provided with refreshments sponsored by scores of local businesses, while students attended the positive mental health presentation.
A host of dignitaries were in attendance including Ballina Mayor, Cllr Willie Nolan, deputies Dara Calleary and Michelle Mulherin, as well as chair of the board of management, Sr Mary Corr, board of management members, and parents’ council representatives.
The event also incorporated a mental health organisation exhibition with organisation representatives on hand to discuss the importance of positive mental health.