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A helping hand for young who struggle to cope

A MOTHER whose son killed himself has launched a charity to raise funds to provide counselling for other troubled young people or relatives who have taken their own lives.

POSITIVE ACTION: Laura Nolan has established a service to allow young people to gain access to support for mental health issues.  Picture: Stewart Attwood
POSITIVE ACTION: Laura Nolan has established a service to allow young people to gain access to support for mental health issues. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Laura Nolan has named the Joshua Nolan Foundation after her son, who committed suicide last year aged 22.

She said that more support was needed for young people and that too little was being done to overcome the stigma of mental health issues.

Suicide is the most common cause of death among young men in Scotland and the country's rates are the highest in the UK.

The rate for the type of death among young men overtook England and Wales around 1968, with the gap widening in the 1990s, although numbers have dropped slightly in recent years.

A report by The Samaritans last year found that there were 608 suicides among young men in 2012, with the most vulnerable group those aged 20 to 25.

Ms Nolan, 38, said she found it difficult to secure access to support for her son when she realised he had problems and that there was no-one to talk to about how to help him deal with his issues.

She wants to establish a service that others who find themselves in her position can rely on for help and advice. The Edinburgh businesswoman said: "Josh was like many young men his age.

"He was struggling to find a job and did not know where he was going in life and was trying to find his way.

"He was losing himself. I was worried for him but I could not find anyone who could help.

"I knew he was struggling and needed help but I didn't think he was as bad as he was.

"But even if I had there did not seem to be anywhere he could go with his problems."

After her son died, Ms Nolan said she kept looking into the available services for young people but could not find any that would have helped her son.

She said: "There is little help in Scotland for young men, and that's really sad.

"There are no support centres or drop in clinics, no-one he could have talked to about his problems.

"The only help is for extreme cases that you would need to be in a very bad way before you can access them.

"There are no specialist counsellors you can speak to.

"I set up the Joshua Nolan Foundation to help bridge that gap and make a positive difference to the lives of adults in Scotland.

"Raising awareness is so important too - we need to talk about mental health and have a national conversation. We need to tackle this taboo."

Ms Nolan has set up the Foundation with a committee of supporters in Edinburgh and has begin fundraising efforts.

As well as raising money to provide counselling, she said that it will have develop a long-term strategy to work with schools on the subject of suicide, challenge public perceptions of mental health issues lobby government to influence public policy.

The foundation intends use of ambassadors, volunteers and commercial partners and also tap into crowd funding and by leveraging of social media.

A group of 14 local supporters and friends of Ms Nolan at the foundation ran the Edinburgh half marathon for "Team Josh" yesterday.

She added: "I want to try to help other people who have gone through a similar situation and give them the access to the support I was unable to find."

l www.joshuanolanfoundation.org

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