World Mental Health Day was celebrated in style in a packed St Michaels Church . A couple of hundred pupils from the local secondary schools gathered together with students from St Anne’s wearing colourful hats to symbolise the importance of protecting mental health and pupils from the Abbey wearing different shoes as part of the ‘Walk in my shoes initiative’.
The event commenced with the voices of all the pupils singing their heart out to the Cold Play’s song ‘Fix You’ before Libby Carew-Eichholz presented the ‘Plan to Protect Your Mental Health campaign. Chairman of the West Tipp Mental Health Association Martin Quinn introduced guest speakers Offaly footballer Niall McNamee, Photographer Liam Burke and Dr Prince Awuzie Consultant Psychiatrist.
Offaly footballer Niall McNamee shared his personal story of recovery from the addiction of gambling and the highs and lows he had experienced. “Too often people can make assumptions about others. People thought I had it all...the big house, the flashy car, but sometimes I did not have the price of a sliced pan. I was chasing happiness and through my recovery I learnt the importance of appreciating the simple things in life.”
Photographer Liam Burke was diagnosed with a brain tumour and cancer of the spine and was devastated with the news that he had three to six months to live. Liam was willing to do anything to be healed from Padre Pio’s Mitten, to prayers, shamans, faith healers... anything that could help him. Liam is now free of cancer, despite the prognosis given at the time. “Never give up hope and talk to people… family and friends are so important.”
Dr Prince Awuzie (Consultant Psychiatrist) addressed the audience about the importance of protecting our mental health. He advised those present on where to go to seek help when in difficulty.