Rather than sitting and talking about how bad things are we should be fighting back by taking back control of our lives.
This is what presidential hopeful and Dragon’s Den Star, Sean Gallagher, told a large group in Moville on Friday night when he talked about the importance of promoting positive mental health issue.
The Hope Health and Wellbeing evening hosted by Moville and District Mental Health Association, based in Serenity House, was set up with the aim to promote a positive attitude towards mental illness. The evening included talks from the presidential candidate, The Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Osteoporosis Society.
Eamonn Sweeney who is involved in mental health services in Inishowen, described Serenity House as a safe place where people can go and talk about their problems
“It’s great for people who lack confidence to go there and increase their skills to help them regain any lost confidence. The fact the majority of the workers there do so voluntarily is great. People like Maura Canning and Annette Faulkner really have done a great job. It is a great place with a warm welcoming and most importantly safe atmosphere.”
Dragon’s Den star, Gallagher, told an attentive crowd that the he found the choice of topic on the night to be probably the most important aspect he would normally speak on.
“When I normally talk at events, its about success and business and how to become a millionaire but as you become a bit older you realise that, while money is important, it is not everything. Anyone who has lost a parent or a loved one they know what really matters, you realise this very quickly as I did when I lost both my parents in the last ten years.
“A lot of young people think it’s about going out getting a big job, and house and car and making lots of money but these things do not bring happiness. If there anything the last 15 years have taught us is that money does not bring happiness, in fact for many of us it brought a lot of stress.”
Sean told how he was involved in a car crash when he was a young man and for this reason, he feels he can relate with a lot of unemployed people nowadays.
“In June 1983 I had a car crash that laid me up for almost 12months, and I can tell you all the confidence I had built up I quickly lost. I can understand now when people become unemployed they lose much more than their job, you lose your status.
“What happens is you sit in your front room and you begin not to go out for the fear that someone may ask you what you do, then you feel as though you have to explain the situation and justify yourself. You may feel you’re identified by your job and when you lose it often you lose your self worth and identity, but a job is not who you are, it is just what you do.
“When I lost my job through injury I had to fight back. It may be difficult but you have to get out there and you have to keep going and get out there and talk to people. I discovered quickly there were people a lot worse of than I was, it’s the old saying you feel bad because you have no shoes until you meet a man with no legs.”
Sean believes it can be difficult for people in this situation to regain self confidence and most importantly self esteem.
“ Often our spirits get dampened by people and sometimes ourselves. Many of us are afraid to go out and do the things we want to do because we are afraid our neighbour might say ‘who do they think they are’. In Ireland we didn’t invent begrudement but by god we have perfected it.
“One word of criticism can knock somebody back, but one of encouragement can change someone’s life like it did in my case. If you feel negative then that’s what you will get, and sadly most of what we see and experience in life is negative.
“But yet I’m here tonight and I see what is working in Serenity House and all the good positive work that is being done. These people are doing their best to help other people, they are heroes giving up their time to help and serve others.”
Sean believes people need to get out and into the communities in order to help themselves out of depression and recession.
“I understand it is a challenge for people to remain positive these days. The only way you’re going to get anywhere is by taking action and taking risks. We can all sit in our communities and talk about how bad things are or we can get up and do something.
“If you’re unemployed you can go out and re skill, but do something you always wanted to do. Do a course, even if it doesn’t get you a job you’re around and you’re meeting people. Most of the jobs you are going to get are not advertised in the newspaper; they are around you they are in your network .
“Our communities need to be rebuilt, people are isolated. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People struggle alone because they don’t want to ask for help, but if we were asked we would surely help. Ask and ask and ask again. Stop talking about what is wrong and start talking about what is possible are what the opportunities are.”
The Cavan man said a visual impairment “I didn’t start out with every much money or any confidence at all. I started out with a visual impairment, I had congenital cataracts which meant I didn’t see at all until I was four. Most people born with this were blind, but I was blessed my parents found a surgeon and my sight was partially restored, not 100% but I’d say I’m more grateful for my partial sight and you are for your perfect vision.
“This taught me I was different why because I couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t read small print and no matter how close I sat I could never see the blackboard. Everyone around me, including all my teachers thought I was a slow learner and that I’d never amount to anything. Until, one day when a teacher called me aside one day and said Sean you have talent and you have abilities you will go on to do well, but you have to believe in yourself and you have to find what it is you want to do and prepare yourself to work really hard for it. If you can dream you can become.”