Raising awareness on youth mental health issues

The headquarters of Ossory Youth in Desart Hall, played host to 40 young people last Sunday for an innovative youth project called “Isolation 24/7”.

The headquarters of Ossory Youth in Desart Hall, played host to 40 young people last Sunday for an innovative youth project called “Isolation 24/7”.

The event was organised to raise awareness around youth mental health issues and to raise much needed funds for the national youth mentail health charity, Headstrong. The event was organised by Youthink, which is a new youth social club in Kilkenny for young people who want to make a positive contribution to society and their community. The group meets on a weekly basis and plans fundraising and awareness raising events as well as social activities for the youth of Kilkenny.

The young people entered Desart Hall at 10am on Sunday morning and handed over their mobile phones and all other contact to the outside world for 24 hours. To be allowed to participate, each individual had to raise a minimum of €24. During this period, each individual had to spend 30 minutes in complete isolation in a room in the building. Speaking to the Kilkenny People, voluntary Youth Worker Mick Greene explained the concept behind the event.

“The group wanted to demonstrate that even when you are surrounded by all your friends you can feel isolated. The young people here on Sunday made the decision to take part - however, young people with mental health issues can feel this sense of isolation 24/7. We wanted to give people a real sense of this in a safe and controlled environment,” he said.

He added that the group had been kindly sponsored for the event and had raised over €1200 for the charity Headstrong.

Mayor of Kilkenny, David FitzGerald officially opened proceedings and told the group of his own interest in mental health. Mayor FitzGerald has dedicated his year as Mayor to highlight mental health issues. As an act of solidarity with the participants, Mayor FitzGerald also spent some time in the Isolation room. Tim Smith from Headstrong also spoke to the group during the day, outlining the challenges the charity faces and explaining the real difference that the charity makes to people’s lives. He praised the unique element of the “Isolation 24/7” event and thanked the group for their achievement.

Youthink and Ossory Youth would like to sincerly thank O2, Dunnes Stores, Deegans Fruit and Veg and Glanbia for their kind help in making the event possible. We would also like to thank Pat Bookle, Becky Carbery and all the Youth volunteers who kept the event running smoothly. Finally, we would like to thank all the participants and their sponsors. They are a real credit to themselves and the community. Young people can have such a positive impact on our community as long as they are empowered and supported.

Youthink have further events planned over the summer and into the autumn. Further information can be found on their facebook page, through Ossory Youth and shortly via www.youthink.ie (under construction).”