Salford student Conor O’rawe, talks about his mission to raise awareness for mental health.
In 2016, Conor lost his dad to suicide and describes his grief as feeling ”like I was on a TV programme, with someone playing an impractical joke on me”
Conor shared that it took him so long to process what had really happened to his father.
”Now after a long time, I have taken meaning from this, I have realised that if I can help one person going through the same, then that is all that matters”.
5 years later, Conor has thrown himself into charity work and fundraising in order to support families going through the same.
‘Darkness into light’ event
For the last few years, Conor and his family have taken part in events back home in Ireland, to honour his dad.
Their charity of choice was Irish charity Pieta house, ”Who provide free support to people with mental health struggles, as well as those struggling with suicide bereavement”.
But being here in Salford, studying physio. Conor decided to launch his own charity event, in which all money donated will be split between Pieta house and other UK based charities.
“This is the first year I have done this without my family, so it was very important to me”.
Conor’s event was a “Darkness into light” charity swim, in the freezing cold waters at Formby beach, Liverpool.
On the morning of the 8th of may, Conor and his friends set off from Salford at 2am to travel to Liverpool. In torrential rain and wind, Conor and others entered the water.
“For me, when I was in that in that moment, all I could think about was the water and that reflects how you feel when you are struggling with mental health, it consumes you”
Overall Conor’s fundraiser has raised over £6000, yet donations are still open and more information on the event can be found at.
Here’s a link to the GoFundMe page.
“Although It was the first time I had done this without my family, I have never felt more grateful in my life.”
“It was an amazing experience, everyone around me was so supportive of the event, I can’t explain how surreal it was”.
“This is just the start”
“Next year I have massive plans, to bring people together from all over the country to raise more money and awareness for mental health”
Conor is in contact with people from Glasgow and London who want to join in with this event.
“I want to make these events as big as possible, if I can make a difference to people suffering then I will”
Charity events and fundraising are only the start of Conor’s journey with mental health, he plans to become an advocate for change and hopes he can support people that are struggling.
“I want to support everyone, It’s not about me it’s about showing people that you will and you can get better, that’s my message”.
My message to people suffering
“Even when there feels like there is no hope, there always is”.
Conor has experienced firsthand how isolating it can be battling mental health issues.
“The worst part of mental health is that it’s not physical, you cannot see when people are at their worst, and that is what is so scary”
Conor wants to remind people how important it is to speak out, “There are so many places that you can go that will help”.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, reach out.
Link to the Samaritans.