A young Glenties woman is leading an important mental health campaign this summer as part of her Miss Ireland journey.
Naomi Molloy, 23, was crowned Miss Kildare this year as she lives and works in Celbridge.
But her Donegal ties remain strong and she is focusing on both counties with her newfound platform.
Naomi is aiming to promote positive attitudes to mental health and reduce the stigma around illnesses.
And she is drawing on her own experience as motivation.
“The big message is that it is okay not to be okay. And there is support out there, you do not have to be alone,” Naomi told Donegal Woman.
“Four or five years ago I was really suffering. I was 16 when I was diagnosed with an issue, at the time I didn’t know what it was. I went through my fair share of therapy and tablets. After a few years I started to realise that I was getting better, I really pushed myself at work, I set myself targets and that’s what works for me.
“I can safely say I’m not over it completely. It will always be with you but it is how you manage it that matters. I like to find my happy place. For me, if I didn’t go to the gym for half an hour every evening, I would lose my mind. It’s about having your you-time.”
‘It’s key to remember that it’s not a weakness, I use it as strength to motivate and focus me in other aspects in life’
Naomi is keen to highlight that there is no one-size-fits-all remedy for mental health.
“I can’t turn around and tell someone to get eight hours sleep and get a good diet, they all help but it’s about finding your own happy place,” she said.
Through social media, local media and work events, Naomi will be working on raising awareness about mental health and available supports.
Naomi is a graduate of Food Science and Business who now works in Sales at O’Brien Fine Foods. She has planned a mental health week for her colleagues with the See Change movement and is being guided by Mental Health Ireland on her campaign.
“I am so lucky to have the company behind me on this. There are about 600 people at my workplace so there’s no better place to start,” she said.
“When schools get back in September I’ll be doing talks on wellness and health, just simple discussions to make young people aware of their emotions at a young age.”
Naomi has a busy month ahead in the lead up to the Miss Ireland final on September 14th. She may be ‘Miss Kildare’, but she is delighted to include her Donegal home area in much of her campaign.
She said: “So far my Miss Ireland experience has been incredible, the support from both Co Donegal and Co Kildare have been fantastic. Both counties have so much community spirit and support for everything that goes on in their areas!”