This Sunday, 10 October, marks World Mental Health Day, in a year marked by an abundance of challenges, worries, loss and disappointment for millions of people the world over.
But as Tom McEvoy, Fundraising and Advocacy Manager at Pieta, says, it's been a year full of "a lot of hope and a lot of help", with many of us reaching out more to friends, family and support groups, finding ways to create peace and joy for ourselves and others and strengthening our ability to hope for better times.
With this in mind, Pieta launches their FeelGood with Pieta' nationwide fundraising initiative, which will run throughout autumn and encourages people to seek out the little things that can make a big difference.
Talking more has been a big step forward, and one that is relatively small and simple, McEvoy notes. "At the very start a pandemic we had to close our doors because of restrictions", he says. "Then in October 2020, we began to open our doors again, thankfully due to lifting our restrictions.
"But in that interim period, we converted a lot of our clients over to telephone therapy. That was a real great transition and a service we never offered before.
The campaign focuses on how as days get darker, vulnerable people who might struggle with their mental health can find it even more challenging to keep their heads above water, but that isn't to say it's a dire time of the year, either.
"Everyone's different and people actually enjoy this time of the year as well", he says. "But they may be not able to get out and enjoy sport as much as they would during the brighter times and longer evenings.
"The biggest thing that we find at this stage is people's social connection with each other begins to shift, and that means that people are living in more isolation than previously. So we're not having the easy conversations that we could have, sharing little stories, maybe even sharing something serious with somebody who you happen to come across and you can trust and then getting that off your chest."
"So we're imploring of people to stay connected with each other during these times and into the winter time and making sure that we're able to make a phone call or share a story with somebody and be conscious about other person other people in your lives that might not be able to access people as easy."
Typically, once the nights get colder and the weather turns darker, that's when a lot of us turn back to our cosy nights in with blankets, a good show to binge watch and maybe even a self-care night. These gentle activities have taken on even more importance after the pandemic, with many people more aware of small ways they can brighten their own days.
But for some, that practice can be hard to build, never mind maintain, depending on their lifestyles. Even younger people, who are usually better able to indulge in self care, have been contacting Pieta more in the last year.
As McEvoy says: "We have especially seen a lot more our under 18 clients come through the doors even in the last seven or eight months. There is a huge raise in anxiety in that demographic, unfortunately. And it certainly hasn't been helped by our communities lock downs and then maybe not being able to be to be in touch with each other through school so easily."
Sign up to FeelGood with Pieta and you, your friends, family or colleagues can help support our u18 service and all those who need it - https://t.co/LgPyAQdhWz #FeelGoodwithPieta pic.twitter.com/VMqoSEG4ra— Pieta (@PietaHouse) October 7, 2021
Simple things are at the core of the FeelGood campaign, and making the most of the resources we have around us is a great place to start, McEvoy says.
"Sunshine is so important or just getting out in fresh air, having some sort of an exercise, a routine, sleeping well, all of that is really essential to your self care", McEvoy says.
"But when some of it starts to break down, a lot more starts to break down, unfortunately, and we have to be mindful of trying to bring it back and taking control and knowing what your triggers are and taking action. It's in our mind or body your emotions and behaviours that give us those tell tale signs."
That's where the FeelGood campaign comes into play, he says: "We're advising people to observe signs of what them into an overstressed or a difficult situation and taking action to either avoid or create a self care model for yourself that works, and that is simple to do."