Since the beginning of the pandemic, and as we all have begun to adapt to our new reality, it has become clear how important it is to stay connected, digitally or otherwise. While this global lockdown brought a lot of uncertainty to many of us and has affected our mental wellbeing, some working in the healthcare arena have recognised an opportunity to pivot and devise ways to use technology to provide additional help for those that may need it.
For someone who has taken that brave step and acknowledged that they may need support, looking for mental health services can be intimidating, especially in a technology-driven world that offers so many options. However, if you’ve wanted to address a mental health issue, but have been nervous about doing so in-person, the remote options available rival the more traditional services. Many of these options are accessible via intuitive apps that are designed to streamline your mental health journey and take most of the guesswork out of finding the expert attention you’ve been seeking.
We caught up with Sinéad Welsh, international child protection specialist (Australia and NI), mental health advocate & creator of the Informed Minds App, and asked her to talk us through why she decided to use technology to support the mental wellbeing of young people on the island of Ireland…
“In 2019, someone we loved aged 21 made an attempt to end his own life.” explained Sinéad. “We were devasted and felt helpless and that was the pivotal moment. I have three young children to rear and changes need to be implemented now but we know it takes a long time to change a culture of silence and stigma.
“After that personal incident, we felt initially so sad, but that lead to anger and that anger eventually led to action. We had an idea to create a digital health solution, that was modern, fast and cool and featured real people!”
“The App works by offering vlogs to scroll through where you can hear from real people and professionals discussing topics in short three to five minute clips covering alcohol, anger, believing in yourself, confidence, COVID-19, depression, grief, LGBTQ+, motivation and men’s matters. We host over 400 vlogs from a range of different personality styles and diversities. You can take what you need or move on to hearing from local charities specialising in different areas and decide to call them for additional advice or support for free.
“We are not a clinical App or service” Sinéad is keen to point out, “but we do take pride in being a preventative model, where we promote everyone taking actions to self-help and tools to feel confident and able to support others as well.”
So how can this app help the farming community on the island of Ireland?
“There is still a stigma around mental health and mental health illnesses in the industry. Our focus is to work together with local people from rural and urban areas & multi-disciplinary professionals to support each other in providing an opportunity for people across different walks of life to tell their stories. They can explain their life challenges and how they recognised their own signs of stress, who they spoke to and what they continue to do daily to maintain a healthy mind.
“The key to tackling poor mental health within farming is to talk…but more importantly listen. If we create a culture where we all feel safe to really share how we feel without being judged, we can truly support each other. We do recognise that not everyone in our family and friendship circles will feel comfortable talking about life, relationships and mental health issues and that’s where wonderful charities like Rural Support come in to play. They are very experienced across these sectors and are just waiting to hear from us all when we need them.
“Being active and making better mind and body health choices for ourselves is the ultimate goal of self-care, where we decide the best choices and changes to make. Also, a common theme from both the lived and learned stories and professional tips within our Farmers Forum is to plan time off the farm to unwind and just have fun.”
The Informed Minds App is available in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland so, whether you are a farmer, living in a rural community, a member of YFCU or involved with a land-based college or university, a 14-day free trial of the Informed Minds App is available on iOS and Android devices on the Apple and Google Play Stores. Then after that, a monthly subscription of £4.99 applies or, for an annual subscription to all of the current and future content, the cost is £49.99 for new users.
If you are a forward-thinking leader across the educational, public sector, charitable or private sector please get in touch as the team offers special discounts for group subscriptions so the Informed Minds App can be provided free to their students, members, employees and service users.
For more information please email email@example.com