By Eimhear McGurk
PUPILS at an Omagh school have just created a one-stop website which is dedicated to raising awareness of mental health.
Believing everyone’s mental health is essential, the aptly named ‘Essentialz’ – the Young Enterprise team at the Christian Brothers Grammar School (CBS) – are committed to helping local young people with their mental health struggles.
“If you look at the local news over the last number of years there has been so many sad incidents occurring as a result of poor mental health in young people, so we really wanted to help tackle that problem,” explained Essentialz IT director, Cian Groogan.
“We don’t think enough is being done in the community and that’s why as a team we wanted to provide that service.”
Mental health is about how people think, feel, behave and anyone can be affected by the illness. With almost half of under 18s in the North experiencing poor mental health, the team want to provide a listening ear for those struggling and aim to raise awareness of mental health issues.
The 14-strong team will also receive qualified mental health training, an element of the project they are all “extremely passionate” about.
“The mental health training is something we’re really focusing on for the future, we want to be able to support young people in our area,” explained Ben Dolan, Essentialz managing director.
“We are not experts but we want to ensure that people in our society realise that their mental health is essential, and we want to be able to share what we learn from our training with other young people.”
Hoping their website is much more relatable than those already online, the Essentialz site is created by young people, for young people.
Alongside providing information and links to relevant mental health organisations, the website will also feature daily podcasts where special guests will share practical tools and coping mechanisms for those who may be struggling.
“The ultimate purpose of our site is to help young people in our local community, showing them they are not alone in their struggles and providing the information and resources they need to get better.
“Even if we can help one person, we’ll have succeeded in our aim,” continued Ben.
The Essentialz team, made up of Year 13 students, meet several times a week and have just released a new product – reusable coffee cups.
“We believe that through sharing a cup of coffee in a more relaxed and friendly environment it encourages young people to talk more openly and get some of the weight off their shoulders,” added Ben.
“Coffee is also proven to relieve depression, so this is another benefit of the cups.”
Not only have the team released reusable cups, but they are also selling stress balls and journals. The small journals can fit neatly in any blazer pocket so students can write down their feelings throughout the day, this is proven to be a great aid for improving mental well-being.
The ultimate goal for the Essentialz team is to create an app which can be used on all phones and tablets. The app will provide access to relevant information about mental health easily, and is a concept that can be continued and developed long after the current team have left the school.
So watch this space, there is certainly a lot more exciting things to come from team Essentialz.
• For more information about mental health and organisations locally who can help, visit www.essentialz.co.uk