The campaign, kicking off in UCD on January 30th, aims to raise awareness and provide support for young people ages 18-25 who are most in need and at risk from suffering from mental illness of mental difficulties.
The campaign will centre around a ‘Fun Tuesday’ on campus, which is designed to embody the campaign’s main message: to walk in someone else’s shoes. “We’re asking people to wear shoes that they wouldn’t traditionally wear into college and to get sponsored for doing it,” explained Gallagher. To further promote the campaign, shoeboxes, as opposed to regular buckets, will also be used to fundraise.
Gallagher continued on to explain that the idea behind the campaign “came from a young service user who said he wished that his friends could walk in his shoes for a day to understand the mental health issues he had gone through.”
The 2012 WIMS campaign raised €85,000 nationally, and aims to raise €200,000 in 2013. The funds raised by WIMS will provide useful services such as a free support and information phone line that will be manned by health care professionals from St Patrick’s University College Hospital. Free assessments and ongoing therapies for young people at risk from suffering from mental health difficulties and community clinics will be provided throughout Ireland, some of which are located in Dublin.
According to Gallagher: “The statistics show that one in four young adults will experience mental health difficulty in 2013. By taking part in the ‘Walk in my Shoes’ project you are showing students that you care and are actively raising awareness and challenging the stigma associated with mental health issues.”
Suicide is the leading cause of death among 18-25 year old men in Ireland. Yet many of these deaths may be preventable with early clinical intervention, which WIMS aims to promote. Between 45% and 65% suffer from treatable mental illnesses such as depression or psychosis. Early intervention in these conditions can stop deterioration, aid recovery, and prevent relapse, giving young adults real hope in returning to a normal life.
Celebrity ambassadors for the campaign include U2’s Adam Clayton, Dáithí Ó Sé, Norah Casey and Brent Pope.