The fonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200 are delighted to announce mental health charity, Olive Branch, will be the sole designated charity of the 2020 event on May 10-16.

The Magherafelt based organisation employs three mental health professionals plus two front of house staff who are both former nurses, offering treatment and support to those suffering from mental health problems.

‘We are absolutely thrilled to have been selected to be the NW200 charitable partner for 2020.’ Leoné Paul, Chairwoman of Olive Branch, said.

‘In light of the current mental health crisis here in Northern Ireland it is vital that our services are known throughout the province and we can’t think of a better way to raise the awareness of our charity and services than through collaboration with the NW200. The reach of the NW200 will no doubt bring people forward to Olive Branch to receive the help they need.’

Olive Branch have highlighted how the people of Northern Ireland experience between 20-25% higher levels of mental health illness compared to the rest of the UK and around 1 in 5 adults are reported to have a diagnosable mental health condition at any given time. Northern Ireland also has the highest rate of suicide in the UK. The proportion of spend however on mental health still remains the lowest in the UK. Between 2000 & 2017 a total of 4476 deaths were registered as suicide in Northern Ireland, a trend unlike the rest of the UK where suicide rates are falling.

‘Mid-Ulster’s suicide rate is the highest throughout the UK so we have opened a free of charge, no appointment necessary, self- referral Mental Health & Well-being Centre.’ Leoné Paul explained.

‘Our clients can come of their own free will and don’t need a doctor or any other organisation’s referral at the exact time they feel the need. Magherafelt is a central location and our aim is to maintain our free of charge counselling service plus offer satellite counselling services periodically in each county by way of a mobile counselling unit so we are more accessible for all.’

‘Mental health issues can affect anyone and everyone, from every walk of life.’ NW200 Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, MBE, said.

‘The work Olive Branch is doing is vital in ensuring those who suffer know they are not alone. Olive Branch offers professional and vital help at a crucial time and we hope North West 200 fans will support the work the charity does in the same way they have supported so many other very worthwhile charities down the years.’

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