Recent figures have revealed that one in four adults living in Northern Ireland will show signs of a mental illness at some point in their lifetime.
More shocking, when matched to 17 other countries, NI has the second highest rates of mental ill-health. These alarming statistics make the work of voluntary organisations and charities across the province even more valuable to those suffering from mental health issues.
Among the many vital charities that are working to support those struggling is AWARE, which works exclusively for people with depression and bipolar disorder.
This charity has now established a network of 24 support groups in rural and urban areas right across NI. These support groups, which are run by trained volunteers, welcome people with depression and bipolar disorder as well as carers for people with the illnesses.
Bridie Kelly is one local woman who gives up her time to volunteer with the charity. She facilitates in the local support groups held regularly in both Magherafelt and Cookstown.
The Desertmartin woman said: “I have been volunteering with AWARE now for the past six months. Just providing a listening ear to people who are struggling can make all the difference.”
But like all voluntary organisations, AWARE is dependent on fundraising from members of the public. Having witnessed first-hand the tremendous support that AWARE provides, Bridie has taken it upon herself to organise a fundraiser with the support of both Mid Ulster and Omagh AWARE Fundraising Committees.
The event will take place at The Elk, Toomebridge on Saturday night (July 14). To ensure that the event is a roaring success, Bridie has also called on her friends to help. Singer-songwriter, Justin McGurk is just one of Bridie’s many friends who have agreed to help out on the night. Doors open at 8.30pm and admission is £10.
Bridie said: “AWARE’s mission is all about overcoming depression and changing lives. I have seen for myself how AWARE has changed peoples’ lives for the better.
“It is so important that AWARE can continue their fantastic work by supporting those who need it the most. The fundraiser will help to make sure that this happens by raising awareness and vital funds.”
For those who can’t make it on the night but would like to show their support, Bridie has set-up a Jutstgiving page which can be accessed on www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bridiekelly