AROUND 1,000 people have attended the #Here2Help roadshow in Ballymena to hear first-hand experiences of drug abuse and mental health issues.
The event, which was organised by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the PSNI, Public Health Agency and local community groups, was held in the Ballymena North Centre today.
The focus was to highlight the range of services available within the borough to tackle drug and alcohol misuse.
Speaking at the event were a number of key figures including Health Minister Robin Swann, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Maureen Morrow, the Council Chief Executive
Anne Donaghy and people directly affected by drugs, alcohol and mental health issues.
Following a number of tragic events over the recent months a number of Council motions had recently been raised by councillors.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council alongside their Community Planning partners agreed to support any initiative that would help raise awareness of these issues which have had a devastating impact on families and our communities as a whole.
The roadshow also saw the launch of the #Here2Help Smartphone app.
The app has been developed in order that local residents can quickly access contact details for range of support services available to them within the borough.
It aims to provide helplines for users to get support instantly while also providing a wide range of links to reading materials that can help people in their time of need.
Minister of Health, Robin Swann, said: “I want to thank Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, and all their local partners, for bringing together this important roadshow. It has provided a real opportunity to raise awareness of issues related to drugs, alcohol and mental health, but more importantly both the roadshow and the #Here2Help Smartphone app can help people find local sources of help and support in their time of need.
“This innovative approach has the potential to make a real difference in addressing the impact of substance misuse and mental health on individuals, families and the whole community.”
Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Anne Donaghy, said: “Council have a key role to play and that is why we included Good Health and Wellbeing as one of our themes in our Community Plan: Putting People First.
“Each of the councils have a community plan and we need to work with all our community planning partners to help the Minister address this escalating issue.
“The Minister is a huge advocate for mental health and I know that mental health and suicide prevention are top priorities for him and he has our full support.
“Here in Mid and East Antrim, Elected Members are very much aware of the needs of our communities and the mental health issues within our Borough and they have been steadfast in their support in tackling this issue, and have brought several notices of motion in relating to mental health and wellbeing alongside concerns in relation to drug misuse to Council in recent months.”
PSNI Engagement Chief Inspector Willy Calderwood, said: “We fully support the #Here2Help roadshow and app and see this as another way for us to support and signpost those who are most vulnerable in our community.
“The sale and supply of illegal and prescription drugs has a detrimental impact on communities and our focus as a police service will continue to be on those who exploit the vulnerable for their own criminal gain.”
The #Here2Help app is now available and FREE to download.