Northern Ireland

Mental health volunteer Mogue Lawless honoured by PM

Mogue Lawless and a fellow student Image copyright Mogue Lawless
Image caption Mogue Lawless, pictured with a fellow student, received the Point of Light award

A 21-year-old student from Queens University Belfast has been honoured by Prime Minister David Cameron for his volunteer work.

Mogue Lawless, who was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, won the Point of Light award for his work with people with mental health difficulties.

Mr Lawless's project, Start Talking, also raised awareness of mental health issues among 2,000 young people.

Every year one in four people in the UK experience mental health problems.

Point of Light awards are given to recognise outstanding individual volunteers and people who are making a change in their community.

Mr Lawless' projects included organising an exhibition of artwork created by students with mental health issues and engaging visitors in conversations about mental health.

Talking mental health

"Some people really engaged, and others didn't," he said.

"It's the ones that didn't that I'm more drawn to. They don't view it as a problem, just something that's on the fringes.

"They are the ones I really want to have the conversations with."

A survey conducted by mental health charity, Mind, found that 17% of people in the UK have experienced thoughts of taking their own lives.

Accessing help

Profits from the artwork sold is being used for a second exhibition, to showcase work of homeless young adults with mental health issues.

Mr Lawless said: "It's important to collaborate with people who have a direct understanding of the problems, and use them to communicate and raise awareness."

He was able to find support for his own condition through the NHS, but said: "For people who have compounded problems, like alcoholism, homelessness or drug addiction, the routes into support are long and arduous."

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