Positive mental health

Mental health is a major issue in the Western World, currently none more so than in Northern Ireland where we are facing an epidemic of suicide. It also an issue that is of rising concern within the asylum seeker and refugee community within Northern Ireland. This is understandable due to the issues they had to face in their home countries where the had to flee for a range of reasons including war and persecution. The journey here is often perilous and very stressful only to enter into an asylum system that is seen as inhumane, degrading by many and the government openly implement implement policies of hostile environments. Some have described it as being in an open air prison and having a sentence with no end date. There are however – unbelievable as it may seem – people within the asylum system who despite all this are able to maintain positive mental health.

In the current crisis of mental health in Northern Ireland we feel that these people are untapped resources of gold and a great inspiration to others from all walks of life. So we wanted to tease out of them how despite everything that life has thrown at them they continue to maintain positive mental health. As well as consciously celebrating and recognising their ability to do so. We choose to do this through either then written word, audio or video. Then allow the participant to chose what medium suits them best and what information they want to share. Homeplus are currently undergoing this process now with a number of our service users. We will then meet with groups of teenagers from Quakers Cottage who live at interface areas in Belfast and female ex-prisoners from NIACRO to have a discussion on mental health and how the participants have been able to maintain positive mental health. At the end of the project we will upload some of the content from the participants to our website so it can be a resource for others who are facing challenges to their mental health.

According to the National Mental Health Association three of the characteristics of people with positive mental health are:

– They feel good about themselves

– They do not become overwhelmed by emotions, such as fear, anger, love, jealousy, guilt, or anxiety

– They have lasting and satisfying personal relationships