A Year in Barry recently attended a meeting organised by Rachel Degaetano in support of Mental Health and awareness. Rachel explained that her story began in 2014, when two men that she had known for years took their own lives. There were no warnings, they didn't talk to anyone, they just got up, went out and never came back. For the next few months Rachel watched the devastation of those that had been left behind. Rachel began to question "what aren't WE seeing? Are WE not doing enough? Why don't young guys talk? I heard the same thing time and time again". There is a stigma attached to mental health. Young adults think they are weak if they admit to suffering from depression, or having mental health issues or not being able to cope. Rachel wanted to help, but had no idea as to how she would go about it.
A year passed, then in March 2015, found out, a 'facebook' friend's son had taken his own life. Despite there being signs that all was not well, nobody knew to what extent until it was too late. Again, Rachel asked the same questions, and got the same replies. She couldn't get it out of her head, why weren't these young men getting help? A month passed and on April 15th, 2015, before going to work she put a heart on the wall of a friend to let her know that she was thinking of her. Four hours later, Rachel received the most unimaginable news that her own child was dead, that he had hung himself on a local common and would never be coming home again. Since then another 4 young men, have felt that they have had no choice but to end their lives. The latest in January this year was what made her scream, "enough! Something has to be done!"
So again, Rachel took to Facebook, letting people know how she felt, asking other like minded people out there. The response was amazing, so many people wanted to help, but didn't know how, so Rachel with a couple of good friends decided to call a meeting to ask "What can we do as a community to help our young adults?"
The meeting took place on 22nd January at the Jenner Rooms in Barry Town Football Club, they provided the room free of charge. Around 50-60 people got together and put ideas together as to what they could possibly do or set up. Rachel explains "It was an emotional time for most of us and there were a few tears, but more than that, it became quite clear that these people, our community, want to help. We discussed how we could do this, what strengths and skills we could all bring to the group. How these skills could be put to use and what we eventually hope to setup".
Rachel explained that she had started off with a certain age group in mind, 18-25. On leaving, that gap was now 13-30. Ideas had come from everywhere, phone lines, community centres, drop in centres etc were all discussed. The meeting ended with everyone who is interested in helping leaving their contact details and agreeing to meet up again in two weeks when we have some structure and more idea of where we are going.