West Belfast Support Group

West Belfast Support Group

Published on Thursday, 09 April 2015

Posted in News

Our new fortnightly West Belfast Support Group is now open. It runs fortnightly on Thursdays, 6.30pm-8pm.

The group, held at Falls Library, like all our Support Groups, will provide a welcoming platform for people affected by depression to talk openly to other people with the illness.

We have 22 support groups across the North bringing invaluable peer-support to other people experiencing similar problems so they can support each other and help one another.

The groups are facilitated by Aware Defeat Depression’s trained volunteers. Falls Road-native Michael Mooney is one of those volunteers and he has first-hand experience of the important role that support groups can play in recovery.

Michael, who will be facilitating the West Belfast group, was diagnosed with depression in 2006 and was prescribed antidepressants but it wasn’t until he started one-to-one counselling and attending Aware’s North Belfast Support Group that his life started to turn around.

“In 2006, when I was living in Dublin, I had a breakdown,” said the 52-year-old. “My head was in turmoil, it was then I realised that something was up, that I was suffering from depression.

“I spoke to my GP in Dublin and he put me on antidepressants. It was only after coming back up here I went to the doctor again because I wasn’t getting any better.

“The antidepressants were helping but they weren’t solving the problem. The doctor referred me to one-to-one counselling and then I eventually went along to Aware’s Thursday night support group in North Belfast.”

Michael admits he wasn’t convinced by the effectiveness of the support group initially but he stuck with it and started feeling the benefits.

“My first reaction to the support group was that I didn’t like it. Coming from one-to-one counselling where everything was positive and focused on recovery, the support group felt to me like everyone whingeing and moaning and I thought ‘this is going to make me worse’. But I stuck with it and it wasn’t really until a few weeks in that I really started seeing the positive side of the support group – seeing things, picking things up that helped other people.

“Now I think they are fantastic because they are about real people who have been suffering from depression. At a support group everyone has been in a similar situation, there is an empathy there that you don’t necessarily get with the medical professionals.

“I have come a long way on my journey since I started attending the support groups. I would encourage anyone who is affected by depression to come along on Thursday night – you have nothing to lose, there’s no pressure. The main thing about recovery from depression is talking about it – don’t keep it to yourself. There are a lot of people going through the same thing as you are and there are lots of success stories.”