Two talented young men have launched an innovative mental health initiative in Derry to encourage other men to speak out and get help.
Launched yesterday on World Mental Health Day at the Verbal Arts Centre, where Oisin O’Donnell, from Creggan and Martin McDonagh from Enniskillen undertook its ‘Third Space’ project, ‘Man Down’ aims to break any stigma surrounding men’s mental health.
Named ‘Man Down’ as men are frequently told, or believe, they should ‘man up’ when it comes to mental health struggles, Oisin and Martin, both 19, have made a short video, and working with local artist, Rebecca Duddy, they have designed a wall mural, which is currently on display outside Verbal. They have also created leaflets and wristbands to ‘open up’ the conversation in men across the North West.
They want to help raise awareness and influence a change in the way men feel about expressing their emotions.
Oisin told the ‘Journal’ how more men need to realise that it’s ok and vital to open up about their mental health and mental illness.
“Around the time we started talking about making a video around a certain topic, there were a couple of male suicides in the area. A lot of people avoid the topic and we thought we should smash that.”
The video took a number of months to make, working with project workers and Martin and Oisin designed the entire concept and wrote the script themselves.
The duo were awarded a ‘Change Something’ Fund grant of £1,700 towards their project, supported by the Community Foundation NI. The wristbands, with the ‘Man Down’ logo and Lifeline helpline branded on them, were created as a way of showing men in the community that it’s ok to speak up. Also, by wearing the band, others will know there is someone they can talk to. Oisin told how Derry City FC players have confirmed they will wear the bands to promote the initiative.
Claire Harkin, Third Space Manager for Verbal has praised both men for the journey they’ve made so far. “All their hard work and dedication to the project has paid off. We knew that they had created something very powerful, but it’s their determination to help others that has been the driving force in the pushing this campaign forward.”
Joanna Tarach, Third Space Manager for Extern added: “If the Man Down message can help even one other young person to seek the help they need, then that will be a remarkable achievement,” Oisin said he’d ‘100% recommend’ the cross-border Third Space project, a good relations programme delivered in partnership by Extern and Verbal. You can watch their video at https://vimeo.com/365544650.phone.