A young woman who experienced crippling anxiety as a teenager is now helping others overcome their fears.
Jamie McNulty is behind ‘I’m Fine Therapy’ and is stretching the service across the Donegal-Derry border in a bid to reach out to others.
The 30-year-old graduated from the University of Ulster with a Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Health Psychology. Jamie qualified as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (CBT) in April, providing one-to-one therapy for clients for the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression. Most recently, she became a Mental Health First Aid Trainer with the Public Health Agency in the north. This training is open to those aged 18 years and over.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Jamie said she could never have imagined standing before a group of people delivering sessions to help them through what she had experienced firsthand. But she said in a surprising twist, facilitation found her.
“When I was younger, as a child and a teenager, I had awful anxiety. I was so quiet and wouldn’t talk to anyone. I was extremely shy and felt different.
“I never planned my route. I started lecturing in North West Regional College and then I got a job with Action Mental Health facilitating, and I realised I enjoyed it and that actually I was good at it.”
Just how far Jamie has come was realised when she recently visited her old primary school.
“One of my teachers came up to me and remarked how quiet I had been at school. She told me she has a daughter who is very quiet and that she was worried about her but after seeing how I had overcome my shyness so much so that I was facilitating sessions, she said that she didn’t think she would have to worry about her daughter anymore after seeing how I had developed.
“It still surprises me how I enjoy facilitation and the idea that it is helping others gives me great satisfaction because I was once there where they are and I know firsthand the feelings of anxiety.”
Jamie said she wanted to explore why people say they are fine when asked how they are, instead of admitting they may be struggling. Her service, ‘I’m Fine Therapy’ came from this.
“It’s a cultural thing here that we tend to keep things to ourselves and not talk about our feelings. We always say, ‘how are you doing?’, to people we meet in the street and the answer is always, ‘I’m fine’. I really think I’m Fine stands for Facing Inner Negativity and Emotion.”
She believes there is a huge disconnect between separating physical health from mental health and well-being.
“I am aware of transgenerational trauma and of the mental health crisis cross-border and that is why I am branching out to go into various areas with self help strategies. When I was at school, there was no such thing as mental well-being. We received information on physical health but not about well-being. There’s excellent pastoral care in schools for pupils, but I would like to see this added to.”
Jamie received a very positive review from Foyle Down Syndrome after delivering a fun session to children.
“The one thing I didn’t want was for the participants to be left idle. They were full of life and wit. We did a few breathing techniques, arts and crafts, and dance. They really seemed to benefit from it.”
Jamie’s facilitation sessions and CBT can be delivered both in person and online. Therapy can also be provided with a physical activity programme on request.
“I can work with any group and have particular experience with children and young people, schools and community groups. My partner Bruno is a personal trainer with a degree in dance. We work together to combine well-being with physical activity to boost endorphins and improve mood,” she said.
See ‘I’m Fine Therapy’ on Facebook and Instagram or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org