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[HSE Website] Headspace gives a helping hand to young people. (21 Feb 2011)

A unique approach to dealing with mental health issues took place in Co Kildare recently.

More than 40 teenagers came together to perform, for the first time, in several dramas dealing with mental health issues with the help of parents, schools and mixed community groups.

Headspace is a HSE funded initiative surrounding mental health promotion and has been part of an overall plan for responding to such needs in the communities of North East Kildare and Kildare/West Wicklow.

A multi-agency Steering Group was set-up to develop, implement and review a range of Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention measures across sectors and within the community. The membership of the groups is composed of representatives from health, education, youth services and other key agencies working in the area.

This week, teenagers from Kildare performed three dramas in Celbridge, exploring issues which affect them in their lives such as peer pressure, isolation, alcohol and drugs. The initiative is aimed at being a catalyst for community discussion on such topics.

What is emerging from all this work is the importance of involving local services, organisations and communities in developing local and relevant responses.

Key partners in the community response are the North East Kildare Mental Health Sub Group, Kildare Youth Service and Crooked House Theatre Company who expertly guided the young people through the task to hand.

CSO census figures show there at more than 17,000 children and young people aged up to 19 years representing 30 per cent of the region’s population.

These initiatives were undertaken in the context of the ‘Reach Out’ Strategy, the Irish National Strategy for Action on Suicide prevention 2005-2014,

Des O’Sullivan, manager of Kildare Youth Services said: “This is an excellent way for young people to identify their own issues in a safe way through drama. This is a novel approach to such issues and it is a form of interaction they fell comfortable with. Headspace gives the opportunity for young people to learn from this experience and provide recommendations for the future.

This initiative reflects the focus of the Kildare/ West Wicklow steering group to promote positive mental health but also recognises the level of suicide and self harm that exists within the population.

A series of information sessions for parents and local communities on issues such as bullying, dealing with exam stress and internet safety, a Mental Health Promotion &Suicide Prevention Seminar, research project and a multiagency meeting with schools in the region to address areas of concern, are currently underway.

The Headspace Drama programme is underway in three locations in the North East of Kildare – Celbridge, Maynooth and Leixlip.

Kildare Youth Services is a member region of Youth Work Ireland and has been supporting children, young people and their families in the county for more than 30 years.

If you and someone you know needs to talk to somebody you can contact the Samaritans on; 1850-60-90-90.

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