Irish women living in London have been invited to share their secrets in the form of anonymous postcards to help them get their personal feelings and thoughts off their chests.
The blank postcards were sent out to more than 2,000 Irish women living in London as a way of reaching out and helping them battle their mental and emotional distress.
The postcards will now become the focus of a new book, Cailíní Secret, to be launched at the London Irish Centre in Camden.
The postcard idea was inspired by the PostSecret concept, which started in 2005, and works on the basis that complete anonymity can make it easier to come to terms with and face up to your own problems.
The project was funded by the Camden Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who are concerned that many women do not seek help for their mental issues until they reach a crisis.
The CCG found that Irish women in particular were more likely to suffer alone, and contacted the London Irish Centre to help them reach out to those In London.
Gary Dunne of the London Irish Centre said: “We were able to reach the Irish community in a way they couldn’t,” he said. “Our role is connecting with the people in the area, and we managed to do that very well here”. Dunne added that, although the postcards are a “light intervention”, there was something “very powerful” about seeing all these messages together.
One of the volunteers who took part in the campaign is London based Irish woman Aoife Clements. She explained: “Cailíní Secret was created by Irish women for Irish women.
“We understand that one of our strengths – our endurance and ability to get on with things without making a fuss – can also be a weakness. In times of unhappiness, distress or life difficulty, many of us conceal our struggles instead of seeking support.”
The anonymous postcards reveal there are many sources of pain and anguish suffered by Irish women in London. Some of the issues included feeling guilty over terminating a pregnancy, being unable to leave a man you are not in love with through fear of being alone, and suffering with an alcoholic parent.
Dr Jonathan Levy, of the CCG, said: “This book is just one part of a campaign to support Irish women, particularly those in London who are experiencing emotional or mental distress.
Through sharing secrets, we want women to know they are not alone. It’s another innovative way we are working with different communities to increase awareness and reduce stigma around mental illness.”