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mental health awareness

Anxiety isn’t cute or trendy. It’s not about being shy or bashful. It’s not about being too sensitive or too nervous. It’s a serious mental illness that many people fail to treat with respect or care.

Speaking of his battle with depression, author Matt Haig wrote:

“Depression is also smaller than you. Always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. It operates within you, you do not operate within it. It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky but – if that is the metaphor – you are the sky. You were there before it. And the cloud can't exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.”

I think this applies to anxiety too. Even when you are at your lowest, you are more powerful than it, because anxiety doesn’t exist without you.

That said, suffering from an anxiety disorder isn’t easy, but there are little ways to help soothe the disorder, which will make your life that little bit easier.

1: Music:

It’s simple but so effective. I know listening to a Spotify playlist isn’t going to magically cure your anxiety disorder, but it can help a lot. I found that listening to music from my early teens helps trigger positive memories.

I am a firm believer in the power of nostalgia, and experts have found that is helps increase your mood and energy levels.

2: Tell someone:

I know opening up about your disorder is one of the hardest things to do. There is a huge stigma surrounding mental health disorders, especially here in Ireland. However, telling my friends about my anxiety gave me access to a huge network of support. Talking about mental health is difficult, because a lot of people can be dismissive, but confiding in someone who deeply cares about you will make a massive difference.

3: Be organised:

This is the tip that has helped me more than anything. I have hugely benefited from becoming a more organised person as it eases my mind. Sticking to a schedule will keep your anxiety at bay because you will feel in control of the situation. Chanel your inner Monica Geller, but maybe leave your label maker at home if you’re heading out for cocktails with the girls.


In the beginning, there were a lot of bad mental health days but then things started to get better.

I started to manage my anxiety and the clouds of negative thoughts slowly started to clear in my mind.


A post shared by Kat O'Connor (@katoconnorr) on

I thought my anxiety was gone. I naively thought I was ‘cured’. I was too ignorant to realise that mental health disorders don’t just magically vanish. They’re something you have to manage for life.

My anxiety reappeared in May, 2018, on one of the hardest days of my life. The memory of this day is one that will never leave my mind, I remember it all too well.

I was curled up in bed, engulfed in my copy of The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill when I heard a strange noise from the room next to mine.

Was someone snoring or coughing? I wasn’t quite sure, but my gut told me to check what it was.

I opened the door to find my mam turned over on her side in bed, but she wasn’t asleep. She was having what we later discovered was a seizure.


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She was shaking uncontrollably, foaming at the mouth, making this horrid gurgling noise because her brain had shut down and her body was struggling to breathe.

I held her grey, lifeless body in my arms and just yelled and yelled until my dad and sister came upstairs to find us. We shouted at the paramedics to hurry up and get here because as I clung onto my mam, I genuinely thought she was dead, we all did.

I sat in the James’s Hospital A&E for thirteen hours, waiting, hoping and praying my mam was okay. And she was.

The doctors explained to us that mam had a seizure, but have yet to find the cause, but they upped her medication, schedule constant appointments and are pretty pleased with how she is doing at the moment.


A post shared by Kat O'Connor (@katoconnorr) on

Mam is happy and healthy, but ever since that harrowing day I have been a ball of anxiety. The trauma of nearly losing her triggered my anxiety and let it attack when I was at my most vulnerable and I must admit I haven’t been able to manage it as well as I used to.

I am jumpy at home whenever I hear an unusual noise. I wake up in the middle of the night to make sure mam is okay. Dozens of thoughts whizzing through my mind: Is she breathing? Has she taken her medication? Will she be okay when I’m at work?

My parents tell me there’s nothing to worry about, but my brain disagrees. It’s full of panic and dread every single day.


A post shared by Kat O'Connor (@katoconnorr) on

The heart palpitations are back. The rapid breathing is back. The negative thinking is back. And I have accepted that.

I learned how to live with anxiety before and I know I can do it again.

There are days when I let my anxiety take over because I simply don’t have the energy to fight it, but one thing I’ll always remind myself of is that I am stronger than it, even on those days when I just want to give up.

I have accepted my anxiety. I have accepted the bad days, the panic attacks and the constant worrying, but I never let myself forget that this too shall pass.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this feature you can contact Pieta House 24/7 Helpline 1800 247 247 or the Samaritans Helpline 116 123.


Katie Piper has shared a harrowing photo of her acid attack injuries to raise awareness on World Mental Health Day.

In March 2008, Katie’s ex-boyfriend told an accomplice to attack Katie with acid, which left her with major burns on her face, body and blindness in one eye.

Thanks to pioneering surgery, Katie’s vision and face were restored, but the mum’s mental health was still severely damaged.


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To mark World Mental Health Day, Katie has penned an open letter about how scared she was after the attack.

“I remember when I didn’t want to look at anyone. I remember when I didn’t want anyone to look at me. I remember when I was scared of people, scared of men,” she wrote.

“I remember when I was scared of the world. I remember when opening up to people and talking about my trauma and psychological damage just wasn’t possible.”


A post shared by K A T I E P I P E R (@katiepiper_) on

Katie added, “Today on Mental Health Day my first meeting of the day is with my therapist. I still go, it still helps and I’m able to talk.”

She stressed, “Hold on, pain ends.”


A post shared by K A T I E P I P E R (@katiepiper_) on

Katie's journey is proof that we are strong enough to overcome even the darkest traumas. What happened to Katie is simply horrifying and heartbreaking, but the mum has remained strong throughout her journey. Seeking professional help for mental health issues is one of the most difficult steps to make, but it is always worth it.

We have so much respect for Katie for opening up about such a traumatising moment in her life.


Pieta House are calling on clubs, companies and individuals to do something that makes them “FeelGood” and create a positive atmosphere inside and outside the workplace this October to raise vital funds for the charity. Last year over 200 participants took part in ‘FeelGood with Pieta’. Participants raised funds and created awareness by organising yoga classes, lunchtime walks, with some people going the extra mile and tackling the 500km Camino Walk across Spain and France, all in support of ‘FeelGood with Pieta’.

The funds raised for ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ have a direct impact on the service users, as they help ensure the doors remain open and the services provided by Pieta House remain free. ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ ambassadors and well-known household names for the campaign include chef, Derry Clarke, international rugby players, Jack McGrath and Hannah Tyrell, and actor, Moe Dunford.

‘FeelGood with Pieta’ ambassador Derry Clarke, said; “I am delighted to be taking part in ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ again this October. It’s all about taking the time and reminding yourself how good you can feel, reaching out to others and enjoying time together.”

This year, ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ is expanding its outreach across two weeks from October 14 to 27 to encourage people to create and register their own style of event, by doing something that makes them “FeelGood”. Pieta have outlined three pillars to use as inspiration for ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ events:  

Connect – Focus on making time to re-connect with friends and family. Alternatively, make an effort to meet new people in your community/workplace. Organise a coffee morning in aid of Pieta House and invest time in building on existing relationships or creating new ones. 

Be Active – Get yourself moving. Go for a run with a friend, get out of the office for an hour and enjoy a lunchtime yoga class. Getting active doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. Something as a simple as a lunchtime walk or organising a steps challenge amongst peers is a certain way to create healthy competition and get a daily dose of exercise, while having fun!

Feel Good – Organise an event that will help you and friends feel good. Host a movie night with close friends, suggest a ‘Raffle an annual leave day’ competition to your boss. Hold an event that will instil positivity and a feeling of contentment amongst colleagues and friends. 

Speaking about the fundraising initiative, Elaine Austin, CEO of Pieta House, said; “The ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ campaign is an amazing opportunity for people to get active and take small steps towards improving their own mental health as well as raising vital funds for Pieta House to keep our doors open and services free for all. ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ is about taking the time to reconnect with friends, work colleagues or family members in a fun and uplifting way. We are extremely grateful for all donations and hope that the ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ initiative will encourage people to get out, have fun and spread awareness for an important cause.”

EY Ireland, which fundraises for Pieta House on a year-round basis, believes that employee wellbeing is crucial to the health and happiness of any workplace. Following the launch of the campaign, Ian Collins, EY’s Health & Vitality Partner Sponsor since 2018 said: “At EY, we place the health and wellbeing of our employees at the centre of our business. They are our greatest asset and we are committed to continually striving to improve their experience as employees so that their physical, mental and emotional needs are factored into everything that we do, and each of the supports that we provide.”

Since 2006, over 48,000 people have been through the Pieta House doors in a state of crisis, and with over 80% of funding coming from the public, support is vital to help continue this lifesaving work. 

Pieta House, which started as a small, Dublin-based charity in 2006 with just one centre with four staff, has now expanded to 15 centres employing over 270 therapists and administrative staff nationwide. From day one, all of the services it provides have been offered completely free of charge.

For more information and for tips on how to host your event, and turn it into a fundraiser, go to www.feelgoodwithpieta.ie .


Love Island’s Camilla Thurlow has opened up about her mental health struggles on Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast.

The former reality star opened up about she “entertained” thoughts about suicide and not being alive.

She told Elizabeth, “It's difficult for the people around you of course, if you're a people pleaser as soon as you start disappointing the people around you because you're feeling like that then you're trapped in that, is just a constant negative spiral."


A post shared by Camilla Thurlow (@camillathurlow) on

She shared: "You start to entertain thoughts about what not being alive would be like, even if it's just letting that cross your mind or whether it becomes a more serious thought pattern.

Camilla explained how she constantly felt uneasy, “It starts to become unbearable to be inside my own head all the time and I get completely trapped in it, trapped in a really sort of negative spiral."

"It's hard to talk about this necessarily, it's not that the other option becomes any less terrifying but when life becomes unbearable like that you start to think in a different way, it starts to change the way you look at everything."


A post shared by Camilla Thurlow (@camillathurlow) on

The Love Island star said she descended into self-loathing, “I'd had it before so this year it was a recurrence and was managed a lot better. But immediately before Love Island I was in a very, very difficult phase and I really struggled to see a way out of it.

"It's when you can't see a way out, there's no light because you don't think that there's light at the end of the tunnel."


A post shared by Camilla Thurlow (@camillathurlow) on

Camilla’s strength is beyond admirable. People who open up about their mental health are helping beat the stigma surrounding it.


It is hard to believe that it’s been an entire year since we found out about Kate Spade’s passing. The world was stunned when news broke that the 55-year-old died by suicide on June 5, 2018.

The passing of the designer sparked a vital conversation about mental health, highlighting the fact that anyone can suffer and struggle, no matter what they have. Her company has continued to highlight the importance of providing support for those suffering from mental health issues by donating to numerous charities.

Kate Spade New York have vowed to match donations to The Jed Foundation. They will match donations up to $100,000.

They have also generously given grants to mental health organisations Fountain House and Didi Hirsch.

In honour of Kate’s anniversary, they shared a heartfelt tribute on Twitter.

They wrote: “She was smart, chic, artful, witty, charming, trailblazing, gracious & so much more.

“Kate Spade inspired millions of women to stand out in a crowd. We honor the life of our visionary founder and all the joy and beauty she brought into this world. Her vision inspires us every day,” they added.

The anniversary of Kate Spade has encouraged her fans to reach out to their loved ones to remind them they’re not alone in their struggles.

Showing one another that there is support out there makes a difference. It shows those who are struggling that they are not fighting this battle alone.

Kate is survived by her husband Andy and their 14-year-old daughter Frances.


Pieta House has announced a new fundraising initiative aimed at corporates, businesses and SME’s to refocus their love and save ‘A Life A Day’ by donating €1,000 this Valentine’s Day.

Last year in Ireland, more than a life a day was lost to suicide and Pieta House is now calling on companies to donate €1,000 to reduce this number one day at a time. By sponsoring a life for €1,000, companies will fund a full counselling programme for one vulnerable individual suffering from feelings of hopelessness or despair.

Year on year, corporate gifting with flowers, chocolates and jewellery has increased nationwide so instead of dwelling on material items, Pieta House wants to refocus the love and kick-start the new fundraising initiative for ‘A Life A Day’ on what’s traditionally known as the most caring day of the year.

Over the course of a year, Pieta House is aiming to raise €1,000 from 365 companies to reach their target of €365,000 to save a life a day.

Speaking about the new initiative, Kieran Brady, Director of Funding & Advocacy in Pieta House, said; “We’re extremely passionate about life-saving work here in Pieta House and we rely heavily on our volunteers, friends and fellow organisations to support and encourage initiatives such as ‘A Life A Day’.

“According to official statistics from the CSO, more than 392 lives were lost to suicide in 2017, a figure which relates to more than one life a day. The average age of a Pieta House service user is under 30 so we’re calling on corporates, businesses and SME’s to be proactive and protect the wellbeing of their employees by supporting the fight against suicide. By donating just €1,000, you’ll be directly impacting a life that might be otherwise lost to suicide.”


A post shared by Pieta House (@pieta.house) on

Since it was established in 2006 to provide free and accessible, professional services to people who are in suicidal crisis or who are self-harming, Pieta House has worked with over 44,000 people, and has become one of Ireland’s leading charitable organisations in today’s society where suicide, self-harm and stigma have been replaced with self-care, hope and acceptance.

Pieta House, which started as a small, Dublin-based charity, now employs over 270 therapists and administrative staff nationwide and has 15 centres across the country.

In 2018 alone, over 7,400 people came through its doors. From day one, all of the services it provides have been offered completely free of charge.

To help to reduce the rate of suicide in Ireland and save ‘A Life A Day’, you can donate online via www.pieta.ie/alifeaday.ie . For further information on Pieta House and its services, visit www.pieta.ie.


Piers Morgan and Coronation Street star Beverley Callard have commented on the ‘trend’ of celebrities opening up about their mental health issues, claiming that they’re trying to make mental health disorders ‘fashionable’.

The ludicrous and disheartening beliefs of both the Good Morning Britain host and the soap star have unsurprisingly ruffled a few feathers.

More and more people are suffering from disorders like anxiety, bipolar and depression these days and the last thing we should be doing is dismissing the conversation.

We idolise celebrities. We put them on pedestals and are more than likely going to believe what they say as opposed to your regular joe.

Using their platforms to raise awareness about disorders that plague many of us is far from harmful. It’s quite possibly one of the beneficial things they can do online instead of boasting about their luxurious lifestyles and shockingly expensive holidays.

Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner is one of many celebrities who has been an advocate for mental health in recent years, so there’s no doubt Piers’ claims angered the 22-year-old actress.

Sophie took to Twitter to express her disgust and disappointment in a series of moving tweets.

She wrote: “People who think it’s okay to make jokes about mental illness, I feel you must be lucky, because surely you don’t understand or can’t comprehend what it is like to have or know someone with an illness like this.

“Depression is the second biggest killer in affluent Europe and America. One of the greatest reasons being, I believe, is because mental illness has so much stigma surrounding it,” Sophie stated.

People are so afraid to discuss their mental health issues because of that overwhelming and unnecessary stigma. They fear being judged, laughed at and worst of all, not being taken seriously if they do discuss their problems.

Sophie continued: “If we can just all speak out about our experiences or our loved ones experiences we can help other people who suffer with mental illness not feel so alone. Let’s keep this dialogue going.

“You are not alone, you can manage your illness, and people who make fun of it are the minority… not you. You are loved and supported,” she concluded.

Truer words have never been spoken.



Make-up might seem like a bit of fun, but our much-loved beauty products can tell an important story.

Through the creative hands of Paddy McGurgan and the hardworking team at Make-Up Pro Store, they have taken on mental health using make-up to start a campaign.

To mark Mental Health Awareness day yesterday, they picked up their brushes and carefully crafted a look to reflect the darkness mental health can bring.


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Meshing the two together, the idea wanted to acknowledge that at one stage or another, we all go through challenges in our lives and it can hard to find the light.

The campaign didn't shy away from hard pressing issues like the reality of suicide rates, and they want their project to bring action in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Titled, 'You Are Worth More Than Your Darkness', their goal is to use makeup to communicate a message to politicians, heads of state and national decision makers that more needs to be done to curb the soaring rates of suicide.

The aim is to get more care and services available for those who truly need it the most. 


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The Make-Up artists, as well as fans, are being encouraged to open up in a safe space using makeup to visually articulate the rough moments that they encounter in life.  

With this campaign, makeup becomes an important and positive tool for self-expression and conscious well-being.

It's about acceptance of one's self – wherever on the spectrum of darkness into light you may find yourself on a given day. 

Make-Up Pro has even set up a masterclass on October 25 in aid of Action Mental Health in Belfast.

All ticket sales go to the charity.


A post shared by Paddy Mc Gurgan (@paddymcgurganmakeupartist) on If you or someone you love are experiencing suicidal thought, there's help here.

If you or a loved one is struggling with your mental health, there's help here (ROI) and here (UK).

You can get your tickets for the masterclass and support an amazing cause, here.

Feature Image: bryonyherbert_makeup


Geordie Shore girl Holly Hagan is known for her friendly demeanour and usually upbeat attitude.

However, the Geordie star has opened up about her struggles with anxiety in a powerful throwback Instagram post.

Urging her followers to 'stop the stigma,' the reality TV star shared a personal post to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. 

Sharing a fun snap of herself and best friend Charlotte, Holly wrote an extensive and thought-provoking caption:

'This day and these photos will forever stick out for me. Look how happy I am and how much fun we're having!' she began.'

'Five minutes before this was taken I was in Charlottes arms unable to breath having one of the biggest panic attacks of my life.'

'If you know that tingling light headed buzzing ringing in the ear feeling your body is starting to go numb and when you know it's coming and you're fighting to stop it and all of a sudden it feels like your chest is so tight your heart is going to explode and you go to breath in and it feels like someone's put a plug in your airway.'

'Tears streaming out of my face completely terrified and embarrassed. But of course once that was over I had to work, put on that brave confident face and pretend it never happened.'

'I had so many attacks that day I was exhausted. I'd say this was the height of my anxiety but to look at me would you ever have even known?'

'I'm the girl who will panic about being late so much that I'm an hour early. I'm the girl who will spend 3 hours on a train worrying about asking the person next to me to move if I need to get off.'

'BUT I'm also the girl who is now in Thailand ALONE! I'm meeting people and actually initiating conversations with others rather than standing at the back scared to make eye contact!'

'Im the girl who is always gunna have anxiety but I'm also the girl who's telling you it doesn't have to control your life!' she continued, highlighting how things can and will get better for those suffering, even if they feel there is no hope. 

'For the first time in my life I'm truly happy and I'm so grateful every single day that I'm managing to get past this I can't even remember the last time I had a panic attack there's always someone listening whatever you're going through you are NOT ALONE.'

We commend Holly for sharing her story with her fans, and attempting to use her platform to raise awareness for mental health issues. 


Instagram makeup challenges usually involve creating an entire look using glitter, contouring with household objects or creating an a full face look using only Kylie Cosmetics, but there's a new makeup challenge with a difference doing the rounds.

Beauty Youtuber Li'l Moonchild, otherwise known as Yasaman Gheidi is using makeup to raise awareness about mental illnesses in an attempt to lessen the stigma surrounding mental disorders.  

The 27-year-old makeup maven uploaded a touching video to YouTube in which she utilises makeup as a means to portray the emotions she's privately been struggling with. 


A photo posted by YASAMAN GHEIDI (@lilmoonchildd) on

 The blogger uploaded the look to Instagram and shared her story, describing how she attended a work dinner party, but was forced to leave after suffering a massive panic and anxiety attack.

The following day, Yasaman was concerned that her co-workers would have noticed her swift disappearance and questioned it. 

"Why did I have to be ashamed and lie about my anxiety attack? So many wonderful and amazing people suffer from the same mental illnesses that I do on a daily basis."

"Why can't we just talk about it openly? This experience along with many others inspired my 'Inside Out Challenge'"


A photo posted by Britt Gorman (@bat.barbie) on

The challenge, which takes it's name from Disney Pixar film Inside Out, which showcases the tumultuous emotions felt by young people, encouraged people to show what they or others feel on the inside through the external medium of makeup. 

The challenge has been picked up by hundreds of budding MUAs, some of which have been brave enough to also share their stories of anxiety, depression and self esteem issues. 

"Together we CAN chip away at this stigma, we CAN make a difference, and we CAN make the world a kinder place," says Yasaman.

"Just by doing this challenge you are MAKING A DIFFERENCE!" said Yasaman in an Instagram post.

"You are not only starting an important dialogue about mental health, but you are also telling your friends and family that they are not alone in their struggles, and most importantly you are proving to yourself than you are one incredibly BRAVE person."

And with 62% of Irish people admitting that they would not want others knowing if they themselves had a mental health problem, and up to 65% of people saying that being treated for a mental health problem is viewed by Irish society as a sign of failure, it's definitely a makeup challenge with meaning.