Extern and mental health charity Turning Point NI are urging people facing anxiety, stress or poor mental health as a result of lockdown to ‘feel better’ through a new online counselling service within the Northern Trust area.

The Feel Better project has been created as a response to the increased anxieties, worry, and other mental health issues now being experienced by many people, for the first time, as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The project is being run by leading local charity Extern in association with Turning Point NI, which delivers therapeutic counselling and brief acute care to those in immediate crisis, and has been made possible thanks to a £96,755 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund.

And to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs until this Sunday, May 16th, the charities are encouraging anyone who needs support with their mental health or wellbeing to contact them as soon as possible in order to avail of a place.

The service is open to anyone aged 18 or over living in the Northern Health & Social Care Trust area. It offers online confidential counselling sessions, both group and one-to-one, and signposting to other services which may be more suitable to meet the needs of the individual. The service is particularly keen to hear from those living in isolated or rural areas.

Danny McQuillan, CEO (interim) of Extern, said: “Feel Better by Extern offers the opportunity for anyone who is feeling the impact of the lockdown and the pandemic to find help as they navigate this uncertain and challenging time. The project is the latest addition to our comprehensive range of mental health support projects which are making a difference to the lives of thousands, and I would encourage anyone who is facing difficulties to visit our website www.extern.org where they can find more ways to access support.”

Trudi Hall, Director of Services with Turning Point NI, said: “We at Turning Point NI have seen a huge increase in referrals and have an understanding of how difficult this last year has been, especially for those who have been furloughed, or are isolated or vulnerable. This project aims to reach those who may have experienced, or are experiencing, new mental health issues as direct result of COVID-19.

“The Feel Better project is a great opportunity for those individuals who may never have engaged in counselling or have never experienced mental health issues to participate and learn about themselves and how to manage these new feelings of anxiety and worry by empowering them to develop new coping strategies.”

Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director of The National Lottery Community Fund said: “We are delighted to fund Extern so they can respond to the growing mental health needs due to the pandemic, by providing this counselling service in the Northern Trust area.

“National Lottery players raise around £30 million every week across the UK for good causes like this, and they can be proud to know that it is making such a difference to people in Northern Ireland.”

If you need help or want to find out more, please contact a member of the Feel Better team at, tel: 028 9592 4664 or click here to register your interest.

For more information on the project, please visit www.extern.org or www.turningpointni.co.uk. You can also find out more by following @ExternCharity and @turningN on social media.