For almost three years Laois Community Forum has been promoting mental health awareness and this year’s event “Laois Connects” is our most ambitious undertaking to date in this area.
At some stage in our lives we will all encounter different levels of mental health from being perfectly happy to being in that very dark place where there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and all the stages in between. Most of us will cope but, unfortunately, it can be too much for some.
The more we talk about Mental Health the more knowledge we, as a community, gain and it will no longer be that taboo subject that we either ignore or, through our ignorance, devalue those who are experiencing mental health issues.
The current economic downturn has brought many new levels of stress, anguish, fear, isolation and depression into our lives. The fear of losing a job or being unable to get one, the break up of a family through emigration, unable to pay one’s bills, unable to start a family due to poor economic circumstances, unable to meet your full potential, the fear of robberies, fear of losing one’s house, fear of what people will think if I don’t keep up appearances, the list goes on. If we are not looking after our selves both physically and mentally then these fears and worries can take over our lives and destroy us.
No section of our community is immune from mental health issues and this is why we have endeavoured to encompass and target as many sections of our communities as possible. We have guest speakers lined up to talk to groups of all ages and backgrounds spread throughout the county. Along with this we have walks and physical activities lined up in different scenic locations.
Being a farmer I have found this to be one of the most difficult years I have had to cope with. The constant bad weather has made my daily and seasonal work a nightmare. This constant battle has not only left scars in the fields, but it has left scars in people’s minds. We have Mary McEvoy talking in the Killeshin Hotel on Thursday, September 20 and we would particularly invite farmers and rural dwellers to this.
On Tuesday, September 18 Liam O’Neill will welcome sports people to the Leinster Council offices to participate in our activities. I mention these two people to demonstrate the calibre of people who are assisting us in these events and who like us want to promote positive mental health and well being in Laois. Having mental health problems is not the end of the world, it may feel like it at the time because you may feel that you cannot talk to someone or, if you do, it will damage your chances of success or promotion, but by having events like Laois Connects people will no longer feel isolated or stigmatised.