ON September 1, Offaly Community Forum will launch Offaly Mental Health Talk Week (OMHTW) to help raise awareness about mental health issues, to endeavour to reduce the taboo in relation to mental health and suicide and to provide a showcase for the supports that exist in the local community.
Running from September 12 to 17, Mental Health Talk Week will include a countywide series of workshops, guest lectures, seminars and training courses. The week is organised to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). The programme of events will take in six towns across the county; Tullamore, Birr, Edenderry, Ferbane, Clara and Banagher.
Offaly Mental Health Talk week will be supported by a countywide advertising and publicity campaign, the centrepiece of which will be an innovative poster campaign with the message ‘Offaly needs to talk about mental health’.
Speaking in advance of the week, the Chairperson of Offaly Community Forum Tom Finnerty described the initiative as, “a powerful example of a community working to raise awareness of mental health issues locally. This is what community action looks like – pulling together all of our resources to provide real support, awareness and training on important issues.”
“The idea came from a desire within the community to do something about mental health awareness and suicide. The week has been months in the planning and we’ve been overwhelmed with the hugely positive response from every sector of the community. There’s something in the programme for everyone including mindfulness workshops, meditation with the Clara Holistic Centre, art therapy workshops and laughter yoga,” said Mr Finnerty.
Niamh Dowler, Forum Support Worker with Offaly Community Forum said “the HSE, mental health groups, voluntary/community groups and See Change – the national anti-stigma campaign – have also come together to offer a range of supports including workshops on managing stress and coping with life challenges, building resilience, positive mental health, bereavement and loss, suicide awareness training, etc. We encourage everyone to try to get to at least one event or awareness presentation. This is a community driven initiative and we really need the support of local people”
Offaly Community Forum is the independent voice of the community & voluntary sector in Offaly, and is supported by Offaly County Council and the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government. Mental health groups contributing to the week long range of events include SHINE, GROW, Mental Health Ireland, AWARE and HSE departments.
Continuing the spirit of a community initiative, local community groups and organisations have contributed to the financing of the week-long campaign. These funders include The Thatch Vintage Club Rahan, Tullamore LIONS Club and Offaly Community Forum.