Majella O'Donnell has spoken out in a bid to change mens' attitudes towards managing stress and looking after their mental health.Donegal Mind Wellness are launching a new term of Stress Control Programmes, with one specifically for men. From the end of January to March, courses will begin in Frosses, Letterkenny, Ballyshannon, Falcarragh and Clonmany.
Majella O’Donnell is the founder of the charity and prominent supporter of mental health awareness.
Speaking to Donegal Woman today, Majella explained the idea behind the mens’ programme: “The reason we’re doing the men’s only classes is that men are so much more difficult to get to discuss mental health problems. I suppose it comes from how they are brought up, men think they are supposed to be tough and are supposed to handle everything on their own.
“We know from suicide rate in Donegal, never mind the rest of the country, that men are very much affected by mental health issues too.
“Women are so much better at speaking out, discussing their problems and getting everything out into the open. But these classes don’t require anyone to say anything. You come and listen to the facilitator and they give a talk and help you to deal with stress and problems such as sleeplessness and anxiety,” Majella said.
This unique male-only concept for Donegal is not like group therapy as there is no discussion of personal problems or jargon that is difficult to understand. The classes are free and do not require a reservation.
“We hope that men will come along and understand that they won’t be judged as being weak, because we’re all in the same boat.
“I would say to men to put the image that they should be strong aside, and take the chance to do this. People are always saying there’s nothing out there to help people with their mental health. This is out there, it’s free and it’s fantastic,” Majella said.
Breaking old habits
The classes are arranged to help people stay conscious of their mental well-being long after they’ve completed the course. If someone has previously tried stress control and need to refresh their mindset, they can do this too.
“Breaking the habit of lifetime is not going to happen overnight. The course is about giving you the tools to work with your problems. At the end of the day, you’re going to be the one to have to practice these things.”
“When you’ve finished one course you’re full of ideas, and then as the months go on you need a boost again. People who have done it before may need a refresh in their minds.”
Majella is the founder of Donegal Mind Wellness, while there is a team of volunteers working within the charity to provide the services and classes.The stress control classes have been running since the organisation began in 2014.
“I would say to anyone at all to come along – you have nothing to lose!,” Majella said.
The stress control programme for men begins on Thursday 26th January in the Letterkenny Rugby Club from 7.30-9pm. No booking is necessary.