My name is Michelle Byrne and I am the Communications Officer for AWARE. AWARE is a mental health charity in Northern Ireland working exclusively with and for people with depression. Depression does not discriminate and can affect any one of us at any stage in our lives. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is currently the leading cause of disability in the world.
At AWARE, we aim to help all those who experience depression to understand their illness and to find the help they need to get well again. We help and support people with depression and bipolar disorder through our range of support services and education programmes. We work with young people in post-primary schools; those in our most deprived communities and those in the workplace to educate people about depression and to help build personal resilience to mental ill health and ensure that people know there is support if they do become ill.
AWARE’s main education programmes are:
- A suite of Mood Matters programmes aimed at young people, the adult population, new parents and older people. The programme was developed by AWARE in 2000 and since then has been delivered in a wide variety of settings. It incorporates basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy concepts, teaching participants how our thinking and behaviour can affect how we feel, physically and emotionally.
- Living Life to The Full is an evidence based programme suitable for people experiencing low mood/stress and or mild to moderate depression. This is a programme which can make a big difference to your life. It can help you manage your feelings when you are stressed, worried or depressed and learn simple practical skills to help you cope with life’s challenges. Based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy principles this programme is also effective as a health promotion tool. To register for this course visit http://www.aware-ni.org/living-life-to-the-full.html
- Mindfulness is the most recent service offered by AWARE. Research has shown that Mindfulness has significant benefits for health and well-being. Clinical evidence also says that Mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety for those with the illness of depression. It enables people to learn the skills that prevent the recurrence of depression. Mindfulness is a skill for life. By developing this skill you will explore and discover and become more aware of your feelings, thoughts and emotions – and begin to live your life in the present, where peace resides. To apply for Mindfulness please visit http://www.aware-ni.org/mindfulness
In addition to our education and outreach services, AWARE provide vital practical support for people through our support and information line (08451 20 29 61) and our community based support groups. AWARE has 23 support groups operating in towns and cities right across Northern Ireland. The support groups are open to anyone with depression and bipolar disorder or those that care for someone with mental illness. The groups are led by experienced facilitators, many of whom have had depression themselves and therefore can directly relate to how you are feeling. For more information about our support groups and to find your nearest one please visit http://www.aware-ni.org/support-groups/
Women with postnatal depression can do the following to try to help themselves and improve their mood:
- Do tell someone how you feel – your partner, a relative, a friend, your health visitor or your GP.
- Do sleep or rest during the day or night when you can.
- Do try and eat regularly.
- Do find time to do things you enjoy or help you relax.
- Do go to local groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups.
- Do let others help with housework, shopping and looking after other children.
- Do exercise.
- Do use self-help books and websites.
- Do contact organisations that support women with Postnatal Depression.
- Don’t blame yourself, your partner or close friends or relatives.
- Don’t use alcohol or drugs.
I would encourage you to visit the AWARE website to see for yourself the range of services we offer and the work we do to minimise the amount of people in Northern Ireland with depression.
And please remember that depression is an illness which you can recover from.
Support Line: 08451202961
(Monday to Friday from 9am – 1pm)