Mind Your Head with the Good Nuck Mental Health Campaign
By Bryanna Sweeney
Involve Youth Meath kicked off 2019 with the launch of the Good Nuck Mental Health campaign at the Hotel Riu Plaza, The Gresham Hotel in Dublin last month. The reason for this initiative was, “To give young people the space and opportunity to talk (this) was at the forefront of this project,” says Kay McCabe, a youth work coordinator with Involve. It was clear that, from the onset of the first meeting, the group didn’t know what shape the project was going to take, with Kay saying, “Sometimes these amazing young people actually don’t know how amazing they are and it’s our job as youth workers to highlight that.”
The group organised meetings, online surveys and events in five counties: Meath, Galway, Mayo, Donegal and Dublin. The project took 18 months to develop with help from many different organisations who work directly with Travellers. 423 people took part, 367 of which were from the Traveller community. They also held the first National Traveller Youth Conference in Ireland.
Pa Reilly, a mental health worker with Pavee Point, praised the youths on their hard work and resilience, saying, “Issues such as homelessness and discrimination can cause us to think negatively and get stuck in a rut. It’s initiatives and projects like this that show the way forward.”
Kay presented the hard facts of the growing crisis in the Traveller community. “Suicide rates are seven times higher and that’s a stark figure. Through attending things like the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) Young Voices that our young people decided they wanted to have their young voices heard,” says Kay, who was grateful for the input and support from NYCI and Jigsaw from the beginning.
So what were the issues stopping our young people? “Well, the dirty word shame came up too many times and for different reasons,” Kay says, adding, “There’s a shame in not being able to cope. I’d be seen as weak. I can’t ask for help. Shame that it will cause your family shame.” With the launch of this campaign, Kay says, “It’s now time to say it’s okay; there’s no shame in not being okay, that there’s no shame in looking for help. Hopefully you will help us spread the word.”
Even though the group was disappointed that Jim Daly, TD, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People was unable to attend the launch, Kay is optimistic, and says
“This project is about informing policy and how young peoples’ voices can be heard to the policymakers.” Kay adds that she did “Meet Minister Jim Daly at the Connecting for Life launch and he was very interested in our project.” There are currently plans to meet with the Minister to discuss their project, which has already been included in the Midlands, Louth, and Meath Connecting for Life Action Plan. “We’re going to make a short film to inform the community about what we are doing,” Kay explains with excitement. “Watch this space.”