Mental health peer support group launched by local teenager

Me4Teens committee members Ryan Boyle, Millie Doran, Rhiannan Donnell and Hannah Kehoe. Missing from the picture is Rossa Smallman.
Me4Teens committee members Ryan Boyle, Millie Doran, Rhiannan Donnell and Hannah Kehoe. Missing from the picture is Rossa Smallman.

A new mental health support group set up by teenagers for teenagers is to be launched this weekend.

The project is the brainchild of 18-year-old Rhiannan Donnell.

The Oakgrove Integrated College student has set up the support group for young people as she is preparing to sit her A’Level’s.

While she admits it has been a stressful time, Rhiannan said the service is something that is ‘really needed’ among her peer group.

She applied for funding through the Derry City and Strabane District Council Change Something fund and a committee consisting of five local teens was established.

Rhiannan’s dad, Seamus, is involved with the group Me4Mental, which was launched in January 2017. This provides peer support and a drop-in centre for adults experiencing a mental health crisis.

Rhiannan said she has suffered from mental health issues in the past and realised that it is a ‘huge issue’ in Derry.

“Everyone in this community will know that Derry has one of the highest rates of suicide in the UK. I realised that a lot of my peers also have mental health issues and there are such long waiting lists to get help. I realised something had to be done.”

“The platform was already there with Me4Mental, and when I was awarded £1,900 from the Change Something fund it helped me with the cost of setting up Me4Teens,” Rhiannan said.

Me4Teens will be a peer support group and will provide a forum for teenagers to open up, talk about their issues and listen.

“We are not professionals, but each of the committee members have had training. We have already completed suicide awareness training and we hope to undergo further training and qualifications.

“As well as the support group, there will be workshops centred around young people’s interest like art, music, music production and sports. There will also be opportunities for educational and occupational skills. The group will meet every Saturday and provide a non-judgemental, confidential space for teenagers.”

The launch of Me4Teens takes place this weekend and Rhiannan said the response so far has been ‘great’

“It is something that is really needed. The launch is this Saturday and the response so far has been great. I am not someone who goes out of my way to do things, but I am absolutely ecstatic that it is going so well and words can’t describe how proud I am.”

The launch takes place from 1pm to 4pm at 18a Queen Street on Saturday, April 6.