Committee members from sports clubs in the Dungiven area have come together to establish a group which aims to raise awareness of mental health difficulties and offer support to those who need it.
St Canice's Wellbeing Group was recently formed with a view to offer confidential support and advice on a wide range of issues including mental health, addiction, sexuality, diet, health and bereavement.
On Sunday (October 10), the group host its first ever event – a 5k walk in support of World Mental Health Day.
Dozens of people turned out to take part in what the committee hope will be the first of many events.
St Canice's GAC Chairman Kieran McKeever is just one of the committee members of the wellbeing group.
He said a demand for support and services on emotional wellbeing, mental health and other issues was identified in the local area and committee members from sports clubs decided to come together to form the new group.
“It's well known that mental health, obesity and addiction issues are really common nowadays and we thought that maybe we should take the lead and show people out there in the community that there is a bit of help there for anyone who may need it,” he said.
“It started off as a small group but then we got members from the soccer club, the ladies football team, the camogie team and the football team involved so we could expand out and everyone could have access to the service.”
The Wellbeing Group has also teamed up with ALPS (All Lives Are Precious), a community-based mental health initiative which has a satellite office in Dungiven, to provide additional support and services to the community.
St Canice's Wellbeing committee member Julie-Anne Moore said: “The main aim of the group is to highlight the help and support that is available out there.
"At the minute, if people go through the health service, the waiting lists are massive. We are able to signpost people to the support that is available out there.
“As a result of covid, we have seen that many issues are coming to the fore and really we are just trying to be pro-active and raise more awareness and show people we are here and there is always someone to listen.
“We would like to stress that everything is confidential and it won't be people in the committee that you will be talking to, it'll be trained professionals.
“We will also be covering all age groups and hope to organise a number of events and workshops in the future in conjunction with the local schools. It is never too early to start talking to children and discuss any issues they may have with them.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Sean McGlinchey is also a committee member of St Canice's Wellbeing Group.
Welcoming the addition of the group to the community, he said no matter the issue, big or small, he would encourage anyone who is in need of support or help to reach out.
“I would very much welcome this group which I would stress is for all sections of the community. It will be all confidential and I am confident it will provide a much needed service in the community,” he said.
“Many people are facing uncertain times ahead with furlough ending and the possibility of people facing unemployment and this will have an impact on people's mental health so this is a service that we need.”
Just one of the services St Canice's Wellbeing Group are offering is free CPR and Defibrillator training.
The course, which will teach lifesaving skills, will be held in St Canice's GAC main hall every Thursday from October 14.
“There are defibrillators all around the town and many of us wouldn't know what to do in an emergency or provide basic CPR so we have decided to hold this training,” Kieran McKeever explained.
“The CPR and defibrillator training is open to everyone, you don't have to associated with any of the sports clubs however we would advise booking as we can only accommodate ten people per week however we intend to run the course until demand is met.”
Participants will receive a certificate on completion of the course.
To express an interest or to book your slot, please private mail the club's Facebook page or text 07872 07 61 73.
St Canice's GAC Wellbeing Group can be contacted confidentially on 07706 35 40 70 or via email email@example.com
ALPS (All Lives Are Precious) can be contacted on 07731 92 80 58.
Rachel McIntyre and partner Aaron lost their baby in June 2016. Rachel speaks to Liam Tunney about how throwing herself into restarting Drum's camogie team helped her cope with her grief, and speaks about her campaign to light up Ireland's GAA clubs for Baby Loss Awareness Week.
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