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Bereaved local mother helping others find hope

A KILLYCLOGHER mother who lost her daughter to suicide has been teaching young people and their parents to have hope through a mental health workshop.
 
Mandy Chism, from Killyclogher, is a facilitator for the Hopeful Minds programme which aims to prevent anxiety and depression among young people and adults.
 
Mandy lost her 16-year-old daughter Elle Trowbridge to suicide three years ago on April 23, 2017.
 
Shortly after Elle’s death, Mandy became involved with the Hopeful Minds project, and is now teaching the programme to young people in Tyrone and their parents.
 
Hopeful Minds is a new curriculum project developed by iFred, the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression and ran by charity Resilio.
 
It is based on research that suggests hope is a teachable skill and aims to equip students, educators, and parents with the tools they need to find and maintain hope even during the most trying of times.
 
The workshops focus on the prevention of anxiety and depression, through teaching life skills for creating, maintaining, and sustaining hope with practical tools and exercises.
 
Speaking to the Ulster Herald, Mandy said, “I got involved with Hopeful Minds around three years ago and after I lost my daughter Elle to suicide three years ago when she was just 16. I just felt I could not sit back and accept mental health issues and problems.
 
“The services I used were very good but what I learnt through the Hopeful Minds programme – I was just shocked at the level of knowledge that I got through the programme.
 
“Everybody should have this knowledge.
 
“I think there is a lack of understanding within mental health or behavioural issues with young people going through adolescence or ill mental health and there is no knowledge for parents.
 
“Elle was my first child, and if I understood then what I understand now, I don’t know if things would be different or not but that is always the golden question.”
 
Mandy has carried out the workshops in a number of schools, including Elle’s former school Drumragh Integrated College and St John’s in Dromore.
 
Mandy continued, “The young people’s programme is a 12 hour programme which goes right from asking what is hope, to discussing the brain and feelings that can lead you down a bad path for your mental health.
 
“We teach participants to come from negative thoughts to positive thoughts and the programme is adaptable to all ages and abilities.
 
“It brings feelings and emotions into everyday conversations and we go through sessions discussing topics such as failure, goal setting and rumination.
 
“It is not another lesson – we get people involved and talking.”
 
Mandy is so passionate about the programme, and is grateful to have the opportunity to help other people.
 
She continued, “When Elle passed away, it was happening a lot in our area, and I thought I needed to help.
 
I will continue to do this because every person deserves to learn about this project… it changes people’s life in such a simple and fun way.
 
“Without the programme, I don’t know if our family would be where we are now.
 
“The feedback to the project is always positive, and when they come back on day two, they talk about their experiences and everyone is very engaged.
 
“I do this from my heart, and every session I do is with Elle in my heart.
 
“I can’t help Elle now, but if I can help others, then that is what I will be doing,” concluded Mandy.
 
• For more information on Hopeful Minds, visit https://hopefulminds.org/about/.

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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