Two sisters have launched Informed Minds, a “game-changing” mental health phone app.
Sinead Welsh, app creator, and her sister, Paula Fletcher, returned to Tyrone after living in Australia for over a decade.
They recognised the need for improved mental health and well-being support in Northern Ireland.
The sisters have direct professional and personal experience of mental health challenges, including suicide.
Together, they recognised the need to improve the way to share information, support, and help, particularly amongst young people.
Coming from a rural community, the sisters have farming friends and neighbours.
As a result, they can see the pressures on agriculture and its impact on the mental health of farmers themselves.
So, when they created their Informed Minds App, they ensured they did not forget under-served farmers.
Informed Minds App
Samantha McCarroll, a Tyrone dairy farmer, said:
“The Informed Minds App is a place we can visit and read about or hear from people/farmers who are in similar circumstances to ourselves.”
“We can gain a connection to somebody else’s story, and from that, the realisation that we’re not alone and that help is there, and other people face these feelings too.”
“It is brilliant that the farming community have been included in the app and are being given the recognition we deserve and need to cope with mental health issues.”
Alongside input from users in its design, the app has its own Farming Informed Minds ambassador. Will McCutcheon (herdsman on a farm in Cork) shares his own experiences and mental health challenges.
“The app is like having a friend in your back pocket; someone who cares, who is non-judgemental and can help you shift, reframe or change your perception on things and who can give you positive tips to improve on pressure points in your life and is there 24/7.”
Forums and vlogs
Also, the Informed Minds team have hosted a ‘farmer’s forum’ and a ‘young farmer’s matter’ forum online.
Alongside content for farmers, the app boasts over 365 vlogs from real people sharing their lived and learned stories.
Local professionals share their top tips along with advice on where to get help, in an accessible and confidential format.
Sinead Welsh said:
“We are determined to use our professional experience in international child protection and education to really make a difference.”
“Mental health is an acute national crisis across both our rural and urban communities.”
She said people need easily relatable information. She added that short videos are an “ideal” way to get real stories and advice across in “relevant and practical” ways.
“The app allows them to see and hear the stories of others without having to feel any stigma about asking for help, particularly for more risky topics.”
“And the feedback from users has been amazing, particularly on how they feel more hope and can learn how to help themselves and their friends.”
Concluding, Paula Fletcher added:
“The ultimate goal is to reduce self-harm and suicide rates. Our vision is that suicide can be prevented and that positive mental well-being can be a reality for all.”
“And we’re delighted that our app can do just that, especially for sectors such as the farming industry where remote deliver and 24-hour access is of vital importance,” she concluded.