365 free therapy sessions on offer each year

A new Youth Mental Health Foundation has been launched. Here founder of JC Foundation, ROB CONNOLLY, talks about the loss of his brother to suicide and why he, along with friends and colleagues, were propelled into action
365 free therapy sessions on offer each year

Emily Smyth and Eoin Carberry pictured at the launch of the JC Foundation. Picture: Julien Behal Photography

A NEW, Irish foundation committed to improving mental health in young people has launched. JC Foundation will provide 365 free therapy sessions each year to 18-25 year olds who simply cannot afford to access these services themselves.

JC Foundation was founded in response to the loss of my brother John (founder of The Ink Factory) to suicide on June 18, 2016.

The loss was a terrible shock to us all and working with the other founders, Tom and Eve, we made a commitment to making mental-health awareness a core element of our ethos at The Ink Factory (and our sister business PIERCED.ie).

It’s something the three of us believe in passionately and we feel we owe it to John to do everything we can to help those who are struggling. This initially took the form of our hugely successful annual ‘tattoo-athon’. Each year, we select a positive phrase or affirmation which our artists tattoo for free in return for donations with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. Thanks to the fantastic support of our patrons, this event has to date raised over €65,000 for mental-health services.

However, given the difficulty of access to, and overall appalling state of mental-health services in Ireland, we felt we needed to go further than fund-raising. After a particularly difficult year for everyone (especially younger people, ‘Generation Z’) with Covid-19, we are proud to present JC Foundation, a new, Irish mental-health foundation dedicated to promoting positive mental-health within our young adults.

Our core message helping with hope encourages self-compassion, understanding and kindness to oneself. 

We believe in the power of our young people to make a better world for all of us, but we understand that navigating this period of their lives is tough and that sometimes, they need help. Everything that we do at JC Foundation will have youth at its core, hopefully providing a lifeline to a generation who have suffered unprecedented levels of unemployment and difficulty in 2020.

A recent study we conducted in conjunction with OPINIONS revealed that almost 9 out of 10 respondents agreed that COVID-19 is having a negative effect on our mental-health and 84% of respondents believe that the government needs to increase funding for mental-health services during the pandemic. Everyone knows how stressful the past few months have been, and mental health is a fragile construct at the best of times that needs constant attention.

By launching this Foundation, we hope to work against the cultural stigma in Ireland around asking for help.

JC Foundation will be a celebration of John’s life, with the aim of giving people hope and support when they need it most. The Foundation recognises the value of all and the importance of showing kindness to one another — regardless of gender, race, sexuality or faith.

We hope to open applications for our services in February, 2021 with the first round of sessions to commence in March, 2021. In addition to our commitment to providing 365 free therapy sessions each year to those who need it most, we have also established online platforms which will provide mental-health tips and advice for anyone who needs them.

Our first campaign JC Foundation’s ‘3 Good’s’, is a selection of simple but effective tips that can start to make you feel “good” when feeling “great” feels impossible. These are It’s Good to Talk, It’s Good to be Social, and It’s Good to Get Active. These tips and more can be found on our JC Foundation Instagram page @jcfoundation.ie.

In addition to this campaign, we are also working on family support services which will launch next year, providing assistance to the family members of young people who are in crisis. 

One of the most powerful ways to improve your mental-health is to share your problems with a trusted family member but we acknowledge that they may not always know the right thing to say or do. By gradually expanding our services, we hope to provide a consistent support structure for those who use our services, and that they can start to cope a little better and walk a little taller.

We can all agree that more needs to be done for those of us struggling with our mental health in Ireland. We hope that JC Foundation will be a step on this journey to end the crippling stigma around mental-illness and reaching out for help. Our therapy sessions and our other services are proudly funded by The Ink Factory & PIERCED.ie and this is a commitment we intend to stand behind for as long as it is needed. The foundation will kick off in Leinster with an aim to expand nationwide.To find out more information about JC Foundation, access our mental-health tips and advice, or to apply for our services, please visit our website www.jcfoundation.ie.

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