Time to dispel the depression taboo

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Two users of a pioneering charity that supports sufferers from depression and anxiety have said it’s time for Derry to get out of the closet when it comes to mental health.

Irene Melly, from the Brandywell, and Mark Legge, from Culmore, made the call as Aware celebrated its recent move to brand new premises in Queen Street.

Both said the support they have received from Aware has been a real lifeline in helping cope with the often debilitating effects of the illness.

Irene said she was speaking out in the hope that it would encourage others to reach out for support. With 383,081 anti-depressants dispensed in the Western Trust last year it’s a common condition, about as common, say, as blonde hair or blue eyes. Irene said that in 2017 no-one should be suffering in silence.

“I’ve suffered from anxiety for years and years,” Irene explained.

“I’m speaking out today in the hope of helping someone suffering from anxiety. Back over the years I experienced it and I was made to believe it was a weakness and you don’t talk about it. It was a hidden secret. It takes a very strong and brave person to make believe that everything is fine when the pain is unbearable to the sufferer.

“There is great support today. Please ring Aware. You will soon find a welcome and know you’re not alone.

Mark agreed: “It has been a taboo subject but at some point, somebody you know is going to suffer from some form of mental illness, depression, anxiety, whatever it may be. This group better equips you to understand and deal with any issues surrounding mental illness.”

If you need support contact Aware at its new office, at 15 Queen Street, BT48 7EQ, Tel: 028 7126 0602, Fax: 02871 309229, at info@aware-ni.org, and at www.aware-ni.org.