Why JIGSAW Galway is paving the way to stamp out taboo about mental health.

Now more than ever is the time to seek help if you are being bullied.  People care and people are going to help, writes Sean Dunne.

Jigsaw Galway is one resource in the West of Ireland that is helping to combat taboo in Irish society regarding mental health. The organisation particularly deals in teenage mental health issues. It focuses on ‘guided self-help’ and ensuring proper advice and guidance is given to adolescents and parents who have concerns about certain issues facing them and their children.

Jigsaw is part of ‘Headstrong’. Headstrong is the national centre for Youth Mental Health. The Organisation is a non-profit organisation supporting young people’s mental health in Ireland.

Research & Community Development Officer at Jigsaw Galway Sarah Simkin says: “Jigsaw Galway is a free and confidential support service for 15 to 25 year olds living in Galway. One of the main aims we have is to help young people to feel stronger and to face whatever difficulty they have.”

Feeling anxious, getting bullied at school, taunted by trolls on social networking websites? You are not alone.

The emerging trend in Irish society of voicing opinions through the hidden medium of social networking sites has become; not just an issue for teenage bullying but has spilled over into all aspects of life  such as work environments, school, politics and in some cases has crept into the once safe environment of the home.

Do not fear those who are persecuting you for whatever the circumstances. Finding the strength and courage to speak out is the first step to prevent further bullying and pain.

The threat of online bullying now affects all sections of Irish society, from the school playground to the world of Irish politics. The advice coming from JIGSAW Galway and for parents who have anxieties with the online world that their children are growing up part of is to approach online bullying the same way as traditional methods were dealt with.

And that official stance was echoed again by Jigsaw Galway who said:” The approach and advice is very much the same in dealing with online bullying as it was with tradional methods of bullying”. Ms Simkin further added: “They best way to deal with online bullying is to ‘block, ‘defriend’, and ‘report’ the online bully.

The message being conveyed by Jigsaw is that they are there to help. Reporting incidents of any kind of bullying is the key to stamping out such behaviour that has sadly become too much for victims of bullying in recent months in Ireland.

“Report abuse on the web to an appropriate authority, whether this be the Guardaí or educational institution you attend or whatever medium necessary to let your voice be heard. Remember you will get the help you need and are not the only person in this position, even though it may feel like this right now.

Sarah Simkin further added: “We each have a role to play, teachers, friends, parents. We are all developing”. Incidents of teenage suicide raised an alarming rate at the end of last year. The advice coming from Jigsaw Galway is to talk to a professional.

When a person is distressed enough, they can carry out an act of extreme anger such as suicide. This may be in response to an impulse that may easily be talked out if people break their silence.

Jigsaw Galway has the following advice to offer to people who may have concerns about the behaviour of a friend or family member who may be struggling in life.

“Pick up the phone to Jigsaw Galway or the family doctor and seek advice about how best to approach the situation. Do not be put under pressure to have all the answers, You have to think about what you have noticed, quite often people think everyone is getting on fine but sadly this is not always the case.

Use whatever words are natural for you to that person and this will allow this person the opportunity to open up about issues in their life. Often time offering supporting such as attending an organisation like Jigsaw will help to break the taboo that the person may have built up”.

The first step is opening up to someone that you trust and realizing you are not alone. The emotions you are feeling have been felt by many other people before you. By seeking help you are not being weak, you are infact being clever. If more people in Ireland could learn to express emotion then it would go a long way to eliminating taboo in Irish society regarding mental health and suicide.

Research & Community Development Officer at Jigsaw Galway Sarah Simkin says: “Jigsaw strongly encourages people to express their thoughts and emotion through creative means, whether this is through creative writing or other means”. Ms Simkin further added: “It’s about finding the happy marriage, getting it down on paper can be an offload and therapeutic at the same time”.

For anyone struggling with a personal issue or for anyone who is concerned about someone they know. Jigsaw Galway is located at Fair green Road, Galway city (across from the new Coach Station) and can be contacted on Text: 087 772 52 32 or Call:  091 549 252.

Remember ‘break the silence’ and speak up. There are professionals, family and friends who are here to help.