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Mother creates online forum to discuss mental health

Joanne O’Hanlon.

A TYRONE mother who recently set up a Facebook page to give locals a place to come together and talk about their mental health has described feeling overwhelmed by the positive response it has received.

Joanne O’Hanlon, who lives in Ballygawley, felt the need to set up the Facebook page, ‘It’s ok not to be ok – please ask for help’ during her teenage daughter’s ongoing battle with an eating disorder, self-harm and depression.

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The Facebook page, targeted at people of any age, encourages local Facebook users to open up and ask for help in a non-judgemental environment.

“I set up this new Facebook page to let people know that they are never alone,” the 40-year-old explained.

“Not everyone will judge them. The page is there so people ask for help and so far, many people have reached out to me which is incredibly encouraging.”

Joanne believes that the topic of mental health is rife because of the pressures that a young person faces while growing up – from social pressures to needing top exam grades in order to simply gain a place in university.

“I feel so sorry and so scared for this generation,” the mother-of-three said.

“Girls strive to wear the latest fashion trends and have the most expensive clothes.

“Some even starve themselves to look like models seen on billboards and in magazines.

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“Others try to be the prettiest, and cover every part of their faces in make-up in order to fit in.

“And there is also an expectation for boys to never show emotion – but I think that’s cruel.

“It should never be embarrassing to cry or feel upset.

“These emotions are very normal and I just wish that every single person would simply be themselves without worrying about what other people think of them.”

Joanne concluded, “Never ever be ashamed, scared or embarrassed to ask for help if and when you’re feeling down – not everyone will judge you and you will feel so much better after sharing your problems with someone else.”

• To access Joanne’s Facebook page, visit  www.facebook.com and search ‘Its OK NOT to Be OK-Please ASK for Help’.

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