PHA promotes a range of local and regional initiatives to celebrate World Mental Health Day


The Public Health Agency (PHA) is today marking World Mental Health Day (10 October) by highlighting some of the varied initiatives it has supported  which are being undertaken by numerous groups and organisations to promote the importance of talking about mental health, breaking down stigma and encouraging people to seek support by speaking to friends, family and local services.

The PHA is particularly focusing on projects that are addressing the issue by developing capacity from within the targeted communities. The projects also have the ability to have an impact on raising awareness of mental health within the wider community.

One of the initiatives is a mental health awareness video made by Everglow Health and Wellbeing group based in north Belfast. It features high profile young actors and sportspeople, to highlight the need to talk about mental health.

Participants in the awareness video include actress Kerri Quinn who’s currently starring in Coronation Street, HBO’s ‘The Pacific’ actor Martin McCann, World champion boxer Carl Frampton, Irish Rugby International Jacob Stockdale, Tyrone GAA Captain Matthew Donnelly, and Irish and Ulster Rugby Captain Rory Best, among an impressive line-up of other well-known faces.

Matthew Caddell, chair of Everglow Health and Wellbeing said: “The motivation of the Everglow group is to positively impact the health and wellbeing of our community, irrespective of age, gender, orientation or creed, as we one in five people in Northern Ireland shows signs of a possible mental health problem.

“The video is a way to promote our messages – it’s ok not to be ok, and it’s ok to talk about your mental health and ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. We hope the video will be shared widely online and start conversations between friends and family about mental health. We were pleased to partner with a range of other organisations, to raise awareness about the support that is available for people.”

The film is under two minutes long and can be viewed on the Everglow Health and Wellbeing Facebook page at  

Another film being launched as part of a local initiative on World Mental Health Day is a 14 minute video made as part of the ARTiculate programme. The programme is supported by the PHA and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Lottery Fund and provides young people with the opportunity to explore health and wellbeing issues important to them and their peers.

Over 80 young people from across Belfast came together over a number of weeks to produce a short film examining the issue of mental health, including online bullying, self-harm and suicide, and how to seek help. The film was developed by west Belfast-based Suicide Awareness and Support Group and art organisation Kids in Control, and the young people hope it will help raise awareness, reduce stigma and build resilience among young people. The film is available to view on Kids in Control Facebook page and YouTube channel.

At a strategic level the work being highlighted on World Mental Health Day is the initiative between Sport NI and its partners, including the PHA, where a commitment was made to collaborate further on a mental health and wellbeing approach in the delivery of a wellbeing in sport action plan.

Brendan Bonner, Acting Assistant Director of Public Health at the PHA, said:

“The Public Health Agency recognises that sport can play a key role in the health and wellbeing of our communities. Being active is good for both our physical and mental health, and being involved in sporting activities can create social bonds and friendships. Sport can also provide an opportunity for people to support each other and identify issues that may be affecting someone’s wellbeing.”

Other project highlights from the PHA at regional level include the FLARE project (Facilitating Life and Resilience Education), in partnership with Education Authority Youth Service. The main aim of the programme is to support young people who are struggling with mental ill health.

In 2018/19 through its small grants programme, the PHA has so far funded 216 community and voluntary groups across Northern Ireland. The funding supports local community and voluntary groups to be proactive in promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing, tackling the contributing factors of self-harm and suicide as well as building sustainable resilient communities through positive collaboration of organisations and groups.

Notes to the editor

One in five people who responded to the Northern Ireland Health Survey showed signs of a possible mental health problem, by scoring highly on the GHQ12


Full list of participants in Everglow Health and Wellbeing video

Ryan Burnett - World Champion Boxer

Jacob Stockdale - Irish Rugby International

Carl Frampton MBE - World Champion boxer

Rory Best - Irish and Ulster Rugby captain

Jamie Lee O'Donnell - Actress Channel 4 comedy, ‘Derry Girls’

Jennifer Barry - Actress Channel 4 comedy, ‘Young Offenders’

Kerri Quinn -Theatre and TV actress, ‘Coronation Street’

Martin McCann - Actor and star of HBO’s The Pacific’

Joe Gormley - Cliftonville  football club

Matthew Donnelly - Tyrone GAA Captain


ARTiculate programme - Kids in Control project is one of 27 projects to date to have received funding as part of ARTiculate, a three-year £600,000 programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds and the Public Health Agency (PHA), which uses artists and the arts to give a voice to issues affecting young people.

Sport NI and the Wellbeing in sport action plan 2018-2023 will offer the Public Health Agency the opportunity to build upon existing work  undertaken by PHA with governing sporting bodies. Sporting  organisations have direct access to ‘grass roots’ communities and provides an ideal platform to deliver key public health messages.

The Public Health Agency has been involved in this mental health and wellbeing in sport project since 2016. We are committed to continuing working with Sport NI and partners and we have given a financial commitment to this project for the next year (initially £20k has been committed from PHA in 18-19) for the implementation of the wellbeing in sport action plan. We look forward to working to finalizing the Strategic Action Plan, which will provide clear direction, and focus efforts in mental health and wellbeing in sport.