Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Meet the Volunteers

Meet the Volunteers is a series of interviews with ALIVE and Health Connect volunteers.  For more on the benefits of volunteering see ALIVE! Volunteering and Health Connect Volunteers. We begin with a Jane Kearns’s profile of Hannah Durand an ALIVE volunteer…

Hannah is in final year here in NUI Galway studying English and Psychological Studies. Apart from studying psychology Hannah is preparing for a future in the field by volunteering with Positive Mental Health, an organisation that raises awareness and educates on mental health issues among secondary school students. Hannah found out about Positive Mental Health when she visited the Galway Volunteering Centre who told her about the organisation. She wanted to do something that would be beneficial to those she was working with and useful for her in terms of her studies, so volunteering with Positive Mental Health  seemed like the best option.

Hannah volunteers as part of a team who goes out to secondary schools around the west to promote positive mental health and provide students with a thorough education on mental health awareness. They mainly work with Transition year students and the course they give normally runs over a number of weeks, covering all aspects of mental health from bullying, to feelings and emotions and dealing with grief. Hannah finds the work very rewarding as it helps remove the stigma around mental health among young people and it’s beneficial to the students who get to open up about their emotions in a safe environment.

Starting out in September Hannah was nervous about volunteering, she is the youngest volunteer in the organisation and was intimidated at first, but has since found out that her age has been an advantage.; “The students and I are close in age so they feel more comfortable around me. We share similar perspectives and they are willing to open up more to a younger person.”

Positive Mental Health is a small organisation, and Hannah thinks any other young person who wants to help people in any way should get involved; it’s a great cause that will make a difference in people’s lives. 

Interviewed by Jane Kearns

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