‘Our users are experts through their experience’

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A support officer with the depression charity Aware says two decades after the organisation was established in Derry there’s as big a need as there ever has been for its services.

Caroline McLoughlin said the charity, which reaches over five thousand people every year across 23 offices in the North, is keen to help more people from its premises in Queen Street.

“One in four people suffer from depression and I think it’s higher than that in pockets of Derry,” she said.

“Derry has its own problems, socio-economic issues, the economy, unemployment, and young people being more affected through social media and stuff like that - all the problems that are going on. Derry has got a big, big need and our support groups are actually based on a peer support model, the users are experts by experience. We facilitate these experts to support and help each other,” she added.

Ms. McLoughlin said Aware is successfully engaging more and more men, a traditionally harder to reach group. It’s also delivering a ‘Mood Matters Young People’ programme to pupils at local post primary schools.

Its support groups meet on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings.

“They provide a safe environment for people with depression to come along and talk about their illness, to learn more about it and to learn self-help strategies,” she said.

Aware is based at 15 Queen Street, 028 7126 0602. Email info@aware-ni.org, or visit www.aware-ni.org.