This May, have the talk about mental health

Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Martin Ryan, explains to us what Green Ribbon month, which runs throughout May, is all about
This May, have the talk about mental health

Ciara O’Brien ISPCC Child Line, Eileen McDonald Pieta House, Kevin Morrison, HSE Mental Health Services, Cllr Fergal Dennehy, Deputy Lord Mayor, Emmet Cunningham, Samaritans, and Martin Ryan, HSE Suicide Prevention Officer.

MAY is Green Ribbon month, and we in Cork Kerry Community Healthcare are encouraging everyone across Cork to not just wear the Green Ribbon, but to use it as a reason to start conversations about mental health.

As resource officer for suicide prevention with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (which is the part of the HSE delivering community healthcare in the region), I know that we are all faced everyday with personal and emotional challenges that affect us in so many different ways. We work harder, longer and with more pressure in order to pay bills, mortgages. We juggle childcare, accommodation and relationship ups and downs, all while dealing with every day stresses.

As a society, we have come a long way in identifying stress and concerns about our own mental health. However we still need to encourage people to make that call or to talk to someone when they need to. We can all feel isolated or in distress at times, but the most difficult thing to do can be to ask for help because, maybe you feel you’re a burden or feel that your issue or concern is too big or small. The important thing to remember is that none of us go through life without needing support from time to time.

We have also come a long way as a society in speaking out to address the stigma around mental health. In my role as Resource Office for Suicide Prevention, one of the biggest challenges is to find better and more inclusive way of dealing with such issues. I’ve worked in the community in different roles for more than 20 years, and what I’ve found is that building relationships and working together has been the most successful approach. There is no one service which can reduce suicides or self-harm on its own — but working together we can achieve great things.

In the last couple of years in my role as the resource officer for suicide prevention based in Cork, I have focused on building links with local and community partners such as Samaritans, Pieta House, Jigsaw, Childline (and too many others to list), to ensure that the conversation about mental health and seeking supports is on everyone’s agenda. The normalisation of seeking help for mental health issues needs to be a whole community target. Every person, in every sector and in all walks of life should know these 24/7 support numbers:

The Samaritans — call 116 123; text 087-2609090; email

Childline call 1800 666 666

Pieta House — call 1800 247 247

For this month I want to encourage every person across the city and county to place the numbers listed below into their phones as you never know when you will be asked for help or advice — or when you’ll need someone to talk to yourself.

The Green Ribbon campaign helps to get this message out there, that we as a county and as individuals can save lives by just having a conversation.

This month we are supporting the Green ribbon campaign, the Green Ribbon campaign is managed by See Change and receives funding from the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention as part of activity taking place within the suicide and self-harm reduction plan Connecting for Life Cork (

We’re encouraging people to have conversations around mental health. Maybe you could host a simple coffee morning at home or at work, where people have the chance to chat. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to be an expert to start talking about mental health or have all the answers. Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is to let someone know you are there for them and simply listen.

The Green Ribbon campaign will be promoted at events across the city and county this month, including at a Cork City FC match against Limerick last week (Saturday May 5), where I worked with the Samaritans to distribute Green Ribbons and wristbands to an expected crowd of 5,000. Cork City FC gave us a similar opportunity last year, and it was very successful, so I want to thank the board and staff the club for their continued support in promoting of mental wellbeing.

I’m grateful for cross-community support from services and agencies for the campaign in Cork. Just as a sample, here are some of the organisations and events supporting the Green Ribbon campaign in Cork:

Cork City FC.

The recent Cork County Council-supported “Teen talk” event.

UCC and CIT campuses.

City Council ensured that Cork City Hall was “lit up green” last week.

The Cork Healthy Cities Committee.

An IFA event at Doneraile Park which will supporting the Farming Community.

Staff in all parts of Cork Kerry Community Healthcare.

Youth services across Cork city and county I want to again thank all these organisations for supporting and promoting the Green Ribbon campaign.

Together we can tackle sigma by just having a simple conversation — just ask the question.

If you are hosting an event please let me know on as we are hoping to develop a gallery of photographs to show how Cork city and county is standing side by side to prevent suicide.

How to get involved:

The website has details on how to order free Green Ribbon, and how to place a virtual green ribbon on your social media profile. It also has ideas on how to organise an event or bring the Green Ribbon into an event you’ve planned already.

You can follow the campaign on-line using the hash tag #GreenRibbonIRL and on ·; and at @SeeChangeIRL.

24/7 support is available if you need to talk:

The Samaritans — call 116 123; text 087-2609090; email

Childline call 1800 666 666

Pieta House — call 1800 247 247

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