ON Thursday October 10, lots of dedicated people around the globe took part in raising awareness in order to mark 'World Mental Health Day' whilst supporting those individuals who are suffering as a result of mental illness.
Devoted students at North West Regional College in Limavady were no different.
Following weeks of hard work, participants of the Prince’s Trust Team Programme proudly displayed their 'Tree of Truth' which was a result of their community project to raise awareness of mental health.
The Prince’s Trust Team Programme is a twelve week personal development course for young people aged between 16-24 who are not currently in work or education, to build on personal development, learn new skills and boost their confidence.
After teaming up with 'Be Safe Be Well Men's Shed' in Limavady who kindly built and donated the tree, NWRC students were invited to decorate and paint it as part of their community project, transforming it into a symbol of significance for mental health.
Team Leader with the Prince’s Trust at NWRC, Denis McLaughlin, told the Northern Constitution: “The idea behind the tree was to acknowledge 'World Mental Health Week' and we thought why not try to raise awareness and try to inspire some people who may be suffering?
“Everyone is invited to take a blank tag and write some words of advice, encouragement or share their stories which will then be hung on our tree for others to read.
“There is also some prompting questions to help with your message on the board behind the tree such as 'what does mental health mean to you?' or 'who do you go to for support?'
“So people can share a message on the tree which will stay there for another week.”
According to Denis, as well as the mental health tree, the hard-working students have also decided to create a video as part of their project to raise awareness.
Denis continued: “We have been filming the activities we have been doing with the Men's Shed which includes creating this tree.
“Next week we will get the footage, bring it all together and put it on social media to raise awareness in the community which is the main aim.”
Student of the Prince’s Trust Team Programme, Gareth McKeever, 16, told the Northern Constitution: “It's a great course to do.
“The best part is the residential because you get to know your classmates more and everyone starts to talk to each other more too.
“The tree is supporting mental health and well being – we all decorated it and put our own messages on the tree.
“Mental health support is really important because there is a lot of people out there who are suffering and they just keep closed about it, they don't open up about it.
“There have also been a lot of suicides and something does need to be done about it.
“Hopefully this 'Tree of Truth' will help some people open up to their friends, family or anyone they can trust and let them know they are not going through it alone.”
Another student of the Prince’s Trust Team Programme, Dylan McCarney, 20: “The programme is really good and really enjoyable.
“I have met lots of new people while studying here.
“I wrote down the different types of mental health disorders on the tree such as depression, anxiety, OCD and ADHD.
“I think the tree is a good idea and I really hope it will help people in some way.”
As part of raising awareness, staff and students of the programme took part in a walk for mental health which took place at the Roe Valley Country Park last Friday.
Denis explained: “We have also been raising money to donate to the Men's Shed whilst raising awareness of their work as well and this walk is part of that.”
Denis went on to highlight the importance of the Princes Trust Team Programme for young people as many of its participants consider enrolling on a full time college course at NWRC or make their first step into the world of employment.
“The idea of the course is learning about community work and community skills – it's part of the qualification and its the biggest part of the project.
“We try to up skill the students with life skills and work based skills they can take on after the programme.
“In relation to the community project video – the students are learning production skills, planning and organising and problem solving.
“Regarding the community work itself – we have been doing different tours around community organisations to understand issues and determine what work is going on to try and support these issues.”
For more information on the course please contact NWRC Limavady on: 028 7127 8700 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.