Belfast Telegraph

Mental health signs aimed at saving lives to be placed at Cavehill by autumn

By Mark Edwards

Signs aimed at saving the lives of people experiencing mental health crisis are expected to be placed at Cavehill Country Park by this autumn.

The family of Michael Cullen, whose body was found at Cavehill on January 31 following a three week search, have been campaigning for positive mental health signage to be erected in a bid to prevent more deaths.

A massive search operation was launched by the PSNI and search and rescue organisations after his family reported him missing.

Michael, who was 33, was an Ulster University employee from the North Circular Road area of north Belfast. He was also an accomplished beatboxer who had performed to audiences all over the UK in cities including London and Dublin.

He had been struggling with depression before he went missing. The signs at Cavehill will be aimed at giving people suffering mental health crisis information to call for help when they are at their lowest.

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Michael Cullen

Michael's brother, Colm, has been working with SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon on the campaign.

"The campaign is to do with positive mental health and to let people know that they are not alone and that there is help that they can reach out to," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The aim is to save at least one life and help at least one person who is struggling.

"I think there will be phone numbers [on the signs] in case someone is needing support."

Colm has also started a charity called Tamhi which uses the power of sport to promote positive mental health for children.

He added: "As a family we are keeping going and just taking it day by day. Every day is hard but I'm hoping the signage will put a brighter look on things and help someone who is in need."

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Michael Cullen

Mrs Mallon, who is also SDLP deputy leader, said: “After the loss of Colm's brother, Michael, a number of us wanted to do something practical to try to help anyone feeling distressed or in despair.

"We've been campaigning since for signs of hope to be erected in Cavehill Country Park and we are delighted that significant progress is being made.

"Belfast City Council, the Public Health Agency and the Belfast Trust are working with mental health charities and stakeholders to agree the design and location of these signs and they are due to be in place by the Autumn."

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Rescue teams search for Michael on Cavehill last month

"As well as signs, we are delighted that Belfast City Council is organising a series of activities to promote the positive image of Cavehill Country Park and put into practice the Take5 steps to emotional wellbeing.

"These signs on their own won’t change the world but if they make just one person stop and realise they are not alone and help is out there, then they will make a world of difference to that person and their family".

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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