Suzanne Byrne recently worked as a community engagement intern with ReachOut.com. This is her experience and thoughts about the mission behind ReachOut.com and Pleasetalk.ie:
I first heard of ReachOut.com through my flatmate’s friend Vince. Until recently, Vince was ReachOut.com’s community engagement manager. Then I spotted their internship position online and I thought it sounded like an interesting role.
The position would help explore the area of youth mental health and let me to develop skills in working with young people. I applied for the job and was successful.
Emphasising positive mental health
When I started, the dialogue in my head around mental health was all about the removing of stigma instead of emphasising positive mental health which is what ReachOut.com does.
Stigma reduction happens naturally once the positive mental health side of things is emphasised and promoted. At least that’s what I’ve taken away from the experience. It’s important to encourage people to talk about their problems and to promote the idea that it’s fine to not be OK sometimes.
Talking about mental health
I feel more confident in talking to people about youth mental health and I think I’m in a better position now to support people with mental health problems. The ASIST and Safe Talk training I got were particularly helpful.
I’m confident broaching certain issues with people but it’s most visible in the day-to-day conversations that you have at events and with our volunteers.
Acknowledging someone is going through a tough time and being able to handle their response well is something that you only gain over time. Six months working directly with youth mental health issues has really helped me to do that.
Read the full transcript of Suzanne’s interview .pdf (920.28 KB)