Stars step up to support mental health campaign

A host of Irish celebrities are putting their best foot forward in support of positive mental health for young people.

Walk In My Shoes is an initiative being launched today by St Patrick’s Hospital Foundation, where people are urged to wear unusual or mismatched shoes on Apr 26 and make a €2 donation.

The name Walk In My Shoes originated from a young man at St Patrick’s who said he wished his friends could walk in his shoes so they could understand his mental illness.

The campaign’s ambassador is U2 bass player Adam Clayton.

“Money raised will be used to help put young people back on the road to mental health. That’s why I’m supporting Walking in My Shoes Day,” he said.

Former world snooker champion Ken Doherty and singer Imelda May are among a large number of celebrities who are supporting the campaign.

Mr Doherty, who spoke about the campaign in an interview with RTÉ Radio 1’s John Murray yesterday, urged young people to talk to someone if they felt they had mental health difficulties.

Mr Doherty said that while a number of snooker players had come out and admitted they were clinically depressed, there were many more who had kept quiet because of the stigma attached to mental illness.

“The aim of the campaign is to let people know there is help there,” he said.

Mr Doherty said that people who felt they could not talk to family or friends about mental illness should visit their GP.

Co-ordinator of the Young Adult Programme at St Patrick’s, Mary Connellan, said 75% of all mental health difficulties began before the age of 24.

“The transition from adolescence to adulthood is hard enough when you’re well; it is so much more difficult to make this transition with mental health difficulties,” she said.

“Adolescents don’t suddenly flick a switch on their 18th birthday and become fully fledged adults and mental health services should be designed to reflect this gradual transition,” he said.

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