Bressie — ‘The system was fundamentally failing young people in Ireland’

Bressie's charity 'A Lust For Life' partnered with 'Win A Home In Oranmore'.

Bressie's charity 'A Lust For Life' partnered with 'Win A Home In Oranmore'.

While spending a day in Galway speaking to young people about mental health, Niall Breslin (Bressie ) spoke to the Galway Advertiser’s Jamie Conlon about his charity ‘A Lust For Life’, his long term ambition to have mental health programmes in every school in Ireland, and why “hope” is the most important thing any young person can have.

On Monday, May 27, A Lust For Life in conjunction with ‘Win A Home in Oranmore’ went around Galway, with Bressie engaging in conversations with young people about their mental health. A Lust For Life is an award-winning Irish mental health charity co-founded by Irish musician, Bressie. Five euro from every ticket sold for Win A Home In Oranmore will go towards A Lust For Life’s School Programme and their goal of reaching every child in Ireland with mental health education.

A Lust For Life began as a website blog for Bressie to document his struggles with anxiety and encourage others to write about their own struggles and break down the stigma. The public attached to it and it began to gain traction rapidly and the Westmeath man knew that it was going to grow into something big.

In his view, the lack of mental health education in schools around Ireland was “failing” the young population and the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted that change was necessary.

Failing

“The system was fundamentally failing children and we wanted to figure out what we could do to change that. Covid has changed how we look at the human condition and has exposed the need to ramp up how we support young people, not just in mental health but in different facets of life.

“We wait for things to become a crisis before we do anything. We just want to stop people getting to the point of crisis. Is that going to solve everything? Absolutely not, but it will make a huge difference.”

A Lust For Life wanted to create an “inter-generational circuit breaker in the mental health arena”, according to Managing Director, Bernie Keogh. This came in the form of digital School Programmes aimed at equipping young people with the necessary tools to manage the ups and downs of human life, as well as identifying and managing their emotions.

“It is a ten week course that consists of ten modules. It is adapted to each age level so that it is age appropriate. For example, we have a new module for fifth and sixth class students covering the transition into secondary school.

“We are trying to build a continuous, systematic supportive education programme that will create a generation that is savvier and demystify the stigma around mental health,” explained Keogh.

Ambition

A Lust For Life’s School Programmes are present in 36 per cent of schools nationwide and has been delivered to around 87,000 kids. So, what is the long-term ambition for Bressie and his charity?

“To be in every school in the country from junior infants to leaving cert and for Ireland to be world leaders in youth mental health. The ultimate goal of every charity is that you close your doors because you have done your job. If we are in every school in Ireland and our programme is part of the curriculum, that’s it, that’s our mission complete.

“We’re starting from a very low bar, but that doesn’t mean we that shouldn’t aim for something really special,” asserted Bressie.

The importance of mental health in young people, and the positive impact outdoor activity and community has on mental health made the partnership between A Lust For Life and Maree Oranmore FC a no-brainer.

“Being outside no matter who you are is healthy. People in Galway live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world to be outside. I don’t think enough people are just being outside in the fresh air, whether that’s by playing sports or just walking,” said Bressie.

It is projected that about €100,000 will be raised for A Lust For Life, and Bressie believes that this level of fundraising “will allow us to redevelop the whole secondary school system”.

For Bressie, he has no doubts that being part of a community and connecting with people has the biggest positive impact on young people’s wellbeing.

“Every young person benefits from connection, and community is the best source of connection. The focus should be on developing strong communities. That’s the best way to develop good mental health, by being part of supportive, strong communities.”

Bressie believes that the pressures young people of today put on themselves is a unique challenge in today’s world.

Pressure

“The pressure young people put on themselves to succeed at the moment is dramatically higher than when I was younger.

“I’ve been successful in many areas of my life and most of that success has come when I’ve let that pressure to succeed go and I focus on what I’m good at. I don’t even know what success is or means, but success for me is connection with people.”

‘Hope is being able to see that there is light even when there is darkness’, and as young people in Ireland navigate the increasingly-complex world of social media, a housing crisis, and pressure, Bressie views hope as a beaming light that must never fade from young people.

“The most important thing for any young person is hope. Hope that they will have what they want and need. Hope that the thing they love to do will become their career. Hope that they can build a home if they have a family. That’s something that we should always keep alight. Young people must always have hope.”

A Lust For Life and Maree Oranmore FC are doing just that. Through A Lust For Life’s School Programmes and Maree Oranmore FC’s ‘Football For All’ initiatives, effective work into empowering the minds of young people and a hope is being fostered that one day the barriers to destigmatising mental health can be broke down.

The Win A Home In Oranmore fundraiser has entered its final month, with the draw taking place on Friday, June 21. The fundraiser will allow Maree Oranmore FC to build nine-a-side and five-a-side football pitches, further bolstering their ‘Football For All’ initiative.

To enter the draw to win a new A-rated three-bedroom home in Oranmore, Galway, visit www.winahomeinoranmore.ie

 

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