Stripped Bare for Mental Health launched in Derry Guildhall
Stripped Bare for Mental Health held a photo exhibition in the Guildhall on Thursday, August 11.
The exhibition featured Derry people posing in suggested nudity with a written piece on what mental health means to them. The exhibition was organised in memory of Emmette Dillion, who died by suicide last year, to raise funds for Foyle Search and Rescue and raise awareness of mental health struggles and organisations that can help.
Emmette’s friend Jennifer Taylor said: “Part of me wishes this event wasn’t taking place, that Emmette was still here and that no one in the world suffered from the dark thoughts in their own heads and that there was no such thing as mental health struggles. But there is and we all stand here proud and unafraid to speak our truths. The truth that we are ill and fight every day against the demons in our minds.
“This exhibition is testament to the strong, courageous individuals who dared to be Stripped Bare. I know, if he was here, he would be entirely proud of each and every one of you. He would have relished being part of the campaign, thrown himself into it, both directing and posing himself, and showing us all how it was done.
“It’s not an easy thing to admit to our struggles and it’s equally as hard to deal with someone with mental health issues but please know this; the world is a better place with you in it. Reach out, talk, ask for help if you are struggling. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
“Emmette, if you’re watching, I hope you’re proud. We love and we miss you. We will never forget you. Your legacy will live on through this initiative and wonderful exhibition and this is only just the start. You’re very badly missed but we will fight on for you, for our families and also for ourselves. We will make sure that all who listen know that help is out there and that no one has to fight this alone.”
“Well done to everyone who took part and ‘bared’ their soul and their life in front of us in every sense of the word. We have seen, for too long, too many people taken from us with poor mental health. We need to be investing in our mental health services and we need to look after ourselves and each other.”
Brian Mullan, Vice-Chair of Foyle Search and Rescue said: “Foyle Search and Rescue is a charity by the people, for the people of Derry. We couldn’t continue to work without events like this. The reality is, in 2021, we dealt with 300 clients. That’s from different circumstances. The very unfortunate thing is, until July 1 this year, we dealt with 180. Unfortunately numbers are going up.
“We cannot survive without events like this. It costs almost £300,000 a year to run our charity but we can’t put a cost on any life. We’re 30% funded by government bodies but the reality is, without events like this, we couldn’t keep going.”
Sinn Féin MLA Padraig Delargy said: “This event is a testament to the number of people in Derry who have been affected by mental health and are standing here collectively as a community. It’s really good to see that and see the bravery people have to take part in the Stripped Bare programme. It’s that lived experience that gives other people the bravery to step forward and enables other people to step forward and tell their story.”
Mags Campbell, a manager at Arc Fitness said: “Arc fitness is an addiction recovery service and a mental health service here in Derry. We are three years old and a not-for-profit organisation. We support individuals who are struggling with substance misuse. We support them through their recovery by empowering them to rebuild their life again. It’s not just about the sobriety piece but dealing with day-to-day, their mental health, stresses and everything else that’s going on. We do that through a few different avenues. Fitness for us is a powerful mental health tool.
“We get to see every day the hope of people changing, the impact that physical activity in Arc can have on people’s mood, their mental health and their wellbeing so their is hope for change out there.”
More information on Arc Fitness can be found at arcfitness.co.uk. More information on Stripped Bare for Mental Health as well as some of the art work from the exhibition can be found by searching @strippedbare101 for Mental Health on Instagram and Facebook.Anyone in distress in NI can contact Lifeline 24/7 helpline can be contacted for free on 0808 808 8000 in confidence; The Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 02871 265511 or Freephone 116 123 in confidence; Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 for any issue or by visiting www.childline.org.uk in confidence.
Anyone in distress in RoI can contact Pieta House free on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444; TEXT Crisis Textline Ireland on 50808 - a free 24/7 text service; Ring Samaritans 24/7 on freephone number 116-123.