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Vt. agencies participate in Mental Health Advocacy Day

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, Health Minister Edwin Poots and Sports Minister Carál Ni Chuilín have joined forces to promote positive mental health in rural communities through sport, arts and other cultural organisations
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Image by Northern Ireland Executive
The Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL), and Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) along with the Public Health Agency (PHA), have joined forces with the main sporting bodies, GAA, soccer and rugby, to provide help and advice to those in rural areas suffering from poor mental health and suicidal thoughts.

Speaking at the initiative launch at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena near Cookstown, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Tackling poor mental health and suicide in rural areas is important. This initiative will help to raise awareness of the support that is available. The involvement of sports and the arts is critical – they provide a solid community-based structure that will ensure many people are targeted and get the necessary support they need.

“It is important that we work together to promote positive mental health, tackle suicide and continue to raise awareness of prevention, intervention and postvention services.”

Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “We know that the majority of people who die by suicide do not seek help from obvious sources such as mental health services. This is why intervention by organisations outside of the traditional health and social care sector is so important. Sporting bodies and community networks interact with thousands of people on a daily basis. They have a vital role in promoting positive mental health and have shown huge willingness to play their part. I am delighted that they are now being directly engaged in the drive against suicide.”

Sports and Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “Many communities have felt the devastating effects of suicide. For too many people mental health issues and worries remain taboo. In lots of communities, and especially in rural areas, sports clubs are where people meet and socialise as well as keep fit. Clubs therefore have a vital role in breaking down barriers in helping people, in particular young men, to discuss their concerns and problems. Significant work has been carried out by my Department to ensure that we utilise sporting and cultural networks and it is vital we all work together to take every opportunity to promote healthy mental wellbeing.”

Representatives from SportNI and the main sporting bodies including rugby, soccer and GAA also attended the event.

Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography

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