New Mental health campaign: a few words can be life-changing - O’Neill

Date published: 10 October 2016

Asking, listening and talking to someone with a mental health problem can be the start of their road to recovery.

That was the message from Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, as she launched a new media campaign to encourage the public to offer support to those who may be struggling with their mental health. 

Launched today on World Mental Health Day, the campaign ‘Helping Others’ will use TV, radio, digital and outdoor advertising and focuses on how people can support family or friends to deal with a mental health problem.

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “It is important that society is open about discussing mental health and that people are willing to talk to their friends and family if they feel concerned about their mental health.

“For many people, being able to talk to someone they trust about how they are feeling could be the first step towards recovery.”

‘Helping Others’ is part of the wider ‘Change Your Mind’ campaign which aims to reduce levels of stigma, discrimination and negative attitudes towards people who experience mental ill-health. The ‘Change Your Mind’ campaign is led by the NI Association for Mental Health (Niamh) and supported by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Comic Relief.

Mary Black, Assistant Director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement with the PHA said: “One in five of us at any one time will show signs of a mental health problem. The other four will know a friend, family member or colleague who will be experiencing mental ill-health, so this is an issue that affects us all in some way.

“People in the north of Ireland are generally sympathetic to mental health issues, but there is a reluctance to start and then hold the conversation about mental health issues. Through this campaign, we want to encourage the public to take that step and start a conversation with someone they are worried about. People may feel uncomfortable about starting the conversation or may not know what to say, so this campaign will include resources such as a leaflet and website which give tips on asking, listening and talking about mental health and maintaining that important conversation.”

Peter McBride, Group Chief Executive of Niamh said: “We in Niamh have long been committed to changing negative attitudes and behaviour towards those with experience of mental illness. Since running our own anti-stigma campaign in 2011, we have been working to deliver this regional campaign and are delighted that the PHA and Comic Relief are the key partners. This grassroots campaign will reach into schools, workplaces and wider society to encourage all of us to be open about our mental health, feel empowered to seek help and able to offer help to someone who may need it”.

For further information on the campaign, tips on talking and to get involved as a local champion for mental wellbeing, please visit

Notes to editors: 

  1. One in five respondents (19%) showed signs of a possible psychiatric disorder Health Survey First Results 2014/15)
  2. The primer element of the Change Your Mind campaign was launched on 2 September 2016 and included radio, outdoor and digital advertising.
  3. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Information Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.
  4. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  5. For all other media enquiries about the campaign please contact the PHA on 0300 555 0117.

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