South West College, Niamh (Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health) and Cookstown District Council recently joined forces to host a hugely successful conference in a bid to help erase stigmas surrounding mental health issues among young people.
Shocking statistics are readily available that clearly demonstrate the growing presence of mental health issues in young adults; ‘850,000 children and young people in the UK have a mental health problem – and that’s just ones that have been diagnosed’ (youngminds.org.uk).
The conference entitled ‘Young Minds Matter’, attended by schools and colleges, as well as an evening session specifically designed for parents and the general public, brought together a range of key stakeholders associated with mental health to discuss hot topics of importance to young adults, including family pressures, body image and social media.
Speaking about the event, Anne Clarke, Programme Manager, Niamh said: “The conference provided a platform for open discussion and engagement with young adults and parents/guardians to highlight support services available and the need to address potential issues early.”
Throughout the conference, the audience was encouraged to share ideas and experiences with their peers through a series of interactive workshops followed by a plenary session facilitated by renowned Communications and Lifestyle Consultant, Billy Dixon. A short drama, produced in association with Niamh and entitled ‘Baggage’, was performed by the Performing Arts students at South West College.
Celine McCartan, Deputy Director and Head of Corporate Services, South West College added: “This event was designed to remove stigmas about mental health issues and the feedback received indicates that both the young adults and parents/guardians who attended thoroughly enjoyed the engagement activities and benefited from the platform for open discussion.”
South West College is extremely grateful to a number of organisations for their support for the conference including representatives of Niamh, Cookstown District Council, ‘Together for You’ project, Action Mental Health, Niamh Louise Foundation, CWSAN, NI Libraries representing the ‘Health in Mind’ project, ASDA and Northern Confectioners.