July 17, 2007

Business Limerick

Date: Sunday, July 1, 2007

Headline: Tough Times ; innovative Mental Health Campaign Tough Times: 

Innovative Mental Health Campaign reaches out to young people in distress 50% of those who die by suicide in Ireland are under 35 years old Young people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives are being encouraged to talk to others about it in an innovative national mental health promotion campaign called 'Tough Times' has been unveiled. The campaign encourages young people to realise that it's normal to experience difficult times and that, however small or big the problem, there are help and support options available. It points young people towards www.spunout.ie, which provides factsheets on a range of health and lifestyle issues, signposts users to relevant help services throughout the country and gives young people a platform to air their views.

The campaign is being coordinated by the youthled SpunOut.ie charity and was commissioned and joint funded by Console and Turning The Tide of Suicide [3Ts] and pro- duced by Kairos Communications. The cost of airing the advertisement on RTE television was provided by Console and the National Office for Suicide Prevention. Ireland has the 5th highest suicide rate in Europe for the 15-25 year age group. Death by suicide is the number one cause of death among young Irish men. This campaign aims to reduce the large number of deaths by suicide by raising awareness of the alternative options available to young people in crisis. It will use a combination of television advertising, poster campaign, online marketing and presence at festivals and concerts, radio, newspaper and magazine features to communicate its key message; that everyone goes through tough times and answers are out there.

The television advertisement will air for 2 weeks from June 19th and features Ian Howley, a 22 year old student who attempted suicide three times in his early to mid teens. He got involved in the campaign through SpunOut.ie, to help others learn from his experience. "Everyone experiences tough times at some stage in their lives. Many young people continue to face a range of health and social pressures leaving them struggling to cope with life's challenges, but I don't want any other person to have to feel what I felt and to go through what I have there is someone you can talk to so noone need suffer alone." The young people featured in the advertisement provided SpunOut.ie with direction and guidance on the issues raised in the advertisement including, coming out to parents, unexpected pregnancy, low self esteem and depression. The television advertisement can be viewed on www.youtube.com/spunout- media.

The highest rate of suicide is found among young men aged under 35 years accounting for approximately 40% of all Irish suicides. In general, men are reluctant to seek professional advice to help them cope with difficulties. The campaign seeks to address this and uses the internet as a tool that many young men in particular view as confidential and accessible when it comes to sourcing information and advice. Speaking in advance of the campaign, Andrew Garvey, Chair of the suicide bereavement group Console said. "It's perfectly normal to experience tough times in life. We all do. Talking about an issue can make such a difference. There is no need to feel that you're alone. Talk to family, friends, teachers, youth workers, health professionals or support organisations. Never feel that there is nowhere to turn. However big the problem may seem, it is not insurmountable." He also encouraged people to call Console helpline on 180D 201890.

Well known Cork rockpop outfit the Frank and Walters donated the background track.

Innovative Mental Health Campaign 'New York' to the advertisement and are active supporters of the campaign. Ashley Keating, of the Frank and Walters explained why they've lent their support. "We think it's time the music industry rallied behind causes like this. Mental health problems and suicide affect everybody. We believe in the power of music to help people understand, survive and heal. The Tough Times campaign is particularly powerful as it brings together music, youth, health, community, government and media agencies to rally for a collective solution to a collective problem. We're encouraging others to join us". The organizers hope to involve a range of celebrities, politicians, funders and other organisations to support the campaign in time for the second phase in September by signing up online at www.spunout.ie