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Posted 8 March 2023

“Stars will shine and curious minds will find a way”

Sean Fitzsimons, New Script activist and poet


RCN Blog

Sara Boyce, organiser with the Participation and Practice of Rights Project, writes about the launch of their New Script for Mental Health Campaign. RCN attended the launch and support the work of the campaign. We would encourage rural groups and stakeholders to get involved by following the links at the bottom of the blog.

Award winning author, Louise Kennedy joined mental health activists, practitioners and others in a packed-out MAC, on Wednesday 1 February, for the launch of a ground-breaking new mental health movement, New Script for Mental Health.

New Script for Mental Health aims to promote and facilitate conversations across society around what a better approach to mental health could look like, and in turn, to make that collective vision a reality.

It has emerged from a recognition that our current, highly medicalised and individualised approach to mental health is failing to address the causes of trauma and emotional distress, and respond appropriately. An approach that too often causes harm to those seeking help as well as to staff delivering services.

New Script is a grassroots movement, led by people with lived experience of trauma and who, for over a decade, have spearheaded campaigns to address systemic failures in the existing mental health system. It is grounded in human rights and trauma-informed principles, and is open to all who support these principles.

The launch included inspirational speeches from activists, a conversation between writers Louise Kennedy and Michael Patrick MacDonald, as well as performances from poets Cathy Carson and Sean Fitzsimons.

Speakers shared their own personal experiences of mental health struggles and what has helped them to recover and heal. A new digital tool was launched to allow people to share their personal New Script for Mental Health.

You can view New Scripts people have shared here.

You can also view video recordings of New Scripts here.

Also featured was an exhibition, documenting the evolution of the mental health rights campaign from its inception in 2006 up to 2023. The exhibition charts the many campaign wins and is a testament to the relentless activism of all those involved.

Magz Gibney, New Script activist and writer, outlined her personal vision for a New Script for Mental Health:


‘The script needs to be rewritten to include proper access to therapy, social prescribing, creative arts, sport, gardening, activism and social change. Before writing the script time, connection, humanity and choice need to be nurtured so that may find our voice and the courage to tell our unspoken stories to each other as fellow human beings without fear of rejection or judgement.


They say it takes a whole community to raise a child, well I think it takes a whole community to hold a person in distress in the ways they need to recover and maybe even find enough hope and love in themselves and the world around them that they flourish’.


The deep desire for a societal conversation around our approach to mental health was abundantly evident from all of the participants. Here’s just a few snippets of feedback from those who attended, from Duane Farrell, CEO Relate NI and below, from Professor Phil Scraton, QUB :


‘Speaking to people afterwards and since, particularly those most impacted by mental ill-health, there was an optimism that the appalling deficit in services here will be challenged until there is a significant breakthrough.’


The launch also secured widespread media coverage , including from all the main broadcast and print outlets. View UTV coverage here and NVTV coverage here


To find out about New Script plans for the next few months, click here and scroll to the bottom.


To share your New Script for Mental Health click here.


For more information on how to get involved contact Sara Boyce, Organiser or 07864074235.