Promoting Positive Mental Health

Life is stressful and times can get tough when life gets challenging. It’s important that young people learn positive life skills to help them deal with life’s stresses. Positive mental health is about learning how to cope with periods of stress and how to seek help when you need it.

Macra National President, Seán Finan, said, “We’d like our members and other young people to think of positive mental health like exercise- you must take regular exercise to be physically healthy and it’s important to protect your mental health as well.”

Macra na Feirme is a great organisation to be a part of as we provide a support network for young people and our activities are a great way to have fun and blow off steam. Sports, drama and public speaking are all excellent ways to make friends, and develop your confidence. It’s important that everyone actively protects their mental health.

Macra na Feirme has become a partner organisation of the See Change initiative which is working to reduce the stigma around mental health issues in Ireland. With one in ten people suffering from depression at any given time in this country, it’s important that myths are dispelled and we are delighted to work with See Change on this issue.

Find out more about what See Change do here.

So, how can you protect your mental health? The HSE lists a number of actions which will help you cope with stress. Find more information here.

  • Accept yourself

Don’t be afraid to accept yourself for what you are. Nobody’s perfect, we all have our good points and bad points. Many different things including personality, background, race, gender, religion and sexuality make us who we are. Everyone has something to offer and everyone is entitled to respect.

  • Get involved

Try to meet more people, build a network of friends and get involved in activities. It makes all the difference in maintaining good mental health. Join a club, socialise more often, do a course - there are many options if you look around.

  • Keep active

Try to incorporate regular exercise into your daily or weekly routine – even a 30 minute walk makes a surprising difference. It’s most effective on the very days when you don’t feel your best so try to make the effort even when you don’t feel like it.  Group activities are great because everyone helps to motivate each other.

  • Eat healthily

A healthy diet will not only help the way you feel, but also the way you think. Try to eat regularly and aim to eat a balanced diet every day. Good food is essential for your mind and body to work properly.( ( 

  • Keep in contact

As we are busy getting on with our lives we may forget to stay in touch with our friends.  Good friends will always be there for each other and we should make the effort to maintain contact.  We don't have to cope on our own all the time.

  • Relax

Try to make time to relax. Fit things into your day that help you unwind like listening to music, reading, watching TV or treating yourself to a luxurious bubble-bath. Find something that you enjoy that works for you. In a busy workday even 10 minutes of downtime away from your desk can help you manage stress better.

  • Do something creative

All kinds of creative things can help when you are feeling anxious or low. Activities or hobbies like writing, painting, cooking and gardening can absorb your attention so much that you forget all other negative thoughts. Experiment until you find something that suits you.

  • Don't binge drink

Drinking alcohol to deal with problems will only make things worse. It is best to drink only in moderation and to avoid binge-drinking. Overdoing it can damage your health and won't help deal with the cause of your worries. Just the opposite - excess alcohol can increase anxiety and lead to depression.

  • Talk about it

Anyone can feel isolated and overwhelmed by problems. Talking about it always helps. Even though sometimes we may feel so bad we don’t want to bother friends or family, just remember that they care and would want to help. If you feel unable to talk to those close to you, then you can call a helpline such as the Samaritans - 1850 60 90 90.

  • Ask for help

If you were feeling physically sick you would see a doctor – and the same applies to mental health. Don’t think that just because a mental health issue can’t be seen it doesn’t count, or that you are wasting the Doctor’s time. It’s OK to accept you may not always be able to cope.  Mental health issues are much more common than you might think, even among people who may seem strong. We all need help from time to time.

GLEN Launch at the National Ploughing Championships

Macra and GLEN have published a booklet on positive mental health for LGBT young people in rural Ireland. You can download it here.

Organisations such as Aware provide excellent resources. They teach ‘Lifeskills’ class with the support of Tesco. You can sign up here - they take place nationwide.

When you need more help, there are a large number of organisations nationwide who can provide services to you. Find a list here which can be searched county by county as well as listing student services.