Conor Hegarty and his wife Amy set up ‘Just a Chat’, a new charity based in Craigavon to help raise awareness and combat the stigma of mental illness.
The group will focus on helping young people aged from 11-18, working with local sports groups and schools.
Conor, who has trained as a life coach, said he and his wife Amy were concerned at the lack of groups who are able to help young people with mental health issues in the area.
“There doesn’t seem to be help until you get to rock bottom,” said Conor, who works full time as a sales representative.
He said the new charity aims to signpost people to the right organisations to help them and to offer them skills to deal with mental health issues.
“Our aim Is to ensure that every youth is aware of what to do when either themselves, family or friends are faced with mental health issues,” he said.
“It is common that people only try and look for answers and solution when they are experiencing mental health issues, and in some cases this may be too late.
“Our aim is to focus on preparation and prevention, so that if a youth faces issues, they have the adequate tools on what to do and information on where to go for help. In our community there is a lot of organisations that offer help, but unfortunately our target age group are unable or not aware of how to access them.
“We aim through face to face interaction to bridge that gap and ensure that all youths have the correct information and knowledge on what to do and where to go when in need.
“This will be delivered to our local football clubs then expanded out to schools and other groups and clubs,” said Conor, who already is working closely with Craigavon City FC.
“As we are newly formed we are limited in available funding so we are faced with raising our own funds in order to begin our workshops as soon as possible and start making a change,” he said.
The couple, who have had experiences with friends and family suffering mental health issues, says the incident in Craigavon with a teenage boy has inspired them to set up the charity and hope they will be able to help other young people in the area.
“We hope to start workshops by the end of July when we having funding in place,” said Conor.
“We can’t fix everyone’s problems but we hope this will help guide young people in the right direction.”
Conor, who is registered with Access NI, says they have registered the new group with the Charities Commission.
If you would like to donate, check out www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/justachat?