Derry’s AMH providing vital support to those suffering with ill mental health
Action Mental Health (AMH) actively promotes the mental health and well-being of people in the community and helps them gain the skills needed to get work or further education.
AMH has emerged as the standard bearer within Northern Ireland’s third sector as they continue to help smash the stigma of mental illness for all sections of the community.
Clients benefit from a variety of personal development, vocational skills and employability training options including accredited qualifications and work placements.
One in five adults in Northern Ireland will show signs of a mental illness and 50% of long-term absences from work are due to mental health issues.
Pauline Flanagan, Service manager at AMH New Horizons Foyle said so many of people that are referred feel like they’re not good at anything, “We focus on what people can do. They can then focus on their own goals; we don’t make their goals for them. We prompt them and encourage them and watch them fly.
“The clients come here and set their personal development goals and their employment goals, where they want to be.
“It is very much person centred. Every client can have up to two years here with us but most don’t need that.
“It is so wonderful to see all our clients achieve everything they didn’t even know they were capable of.”
The centre has many different training facilities available with a vast range of support services. There are qualifications available in retail, hospitality, customer service and IT.
AMH also uses art therapy, upcycling, outdoor recreational activities, gardening and wall art as part of their support services alongside counselling, therapy and awareness training.
Pauline explained that COVID had a very negative impact on those who suffer from ill mental health but the centre is currently providing support and training for many to learn new skills and become key workers.
“There is a demand there after the pandemic, for volunteers and key workers.
“We have the facilities to train and support all our clients all the way to achieve employment in these sectors if that is what they want to do.”
All clients are referred by a GP and community mental health teams and there was a surge in the demand for AMH’s services as a result of the pandemic.
Pauline said they were able to be there for everyone via their online support services, “We closed face to face but we found that online worked well. One real positive of going online was that we could reach more people but it is so lovely to have our face-to-face services back.”
New clients are referred to the organisation every week but are quick to settle in and see the centre as a safe, non-judgemental environment facilitating the services and support that they need to better their mental health.
One client said: “It is daunting when you first arrive but once you are settled in, everyone is so friendly, the clients and the staff, and no one judges you. It doesn’t matter what you say here, everybody is in the same boat.
“You can talk about anything and open up about anything and feel okay to do that. We’ve only been here a few weeks and my friends can already see a difference in me.
“I’ve gone from not speaking at all and now I won’t stop talking. I can already see the changes, positive changes. It’s amazing.”
Another client said, “I feel like we’re all learning every day. There are so many opportunities here that I didn’t even know about.
“I look forward to coming here. I just feel like you leave here and your heart is lighter.”
Visit https://www.amh.org.uk/ events/ for the many fundraising events in the community.
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