“That was the hardest day of my life but it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Mayo Rose Rachel Gibbons is urging us to seek help if we’re struggling with our mental health.

The accounts assistant won praise for her powerful mental health speech on stage at the Rose of Tralee in August.

She spoke openly about her depression and anxiety and her treatment in St Patrick’s Hospital.

Garry and Fionnuala caught up with Rachel on World Mental Health Day.

She revealed that her struggles with her mental health started when she transitioned from primary school to secondary school, but that she didn’t look for help until she was in college:

“I was the only person in my class in primary school to go into a big secondary school with over 100 people in the class, so I found that really difficult. I think that was a lot of it. It stemmed from there. You know, finding it difficult to gel with people, mix with people, because I wasn’t used to it.”

“But it all kind of came to a head when I was in college; I was struggling with my degree, just everything was getting on top of me. I wasn’t looking after myself, going out, not caring if I didn’t make it into college the next day. And it ended up then that I had to take time out of college. Thankfully my family kind of intervened. So I went to my GP and asked for the help and it was the hardest thing, I couldn’t even speak when I went into the GP I was crying that much, thankfully my mam was with me. So that was the hardest day of my life but it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I got the help I needed. I ended up going to St Pat’s in Dublin for a 12 week group counselling course, which was the making of me really.”

Rachel wants to promote mental health awareness during her year as the Mayo Rose by encouraging people to talk.

She said the worst thing you can do is hide it and pretend you’re fine.

The Ballintubber native told iRadio that everyone will struggle at some point in their life:

“Ask for help. It may not be family, it could be a friend, it could be somebody you work with. If you say to somebody you’re struggling, you’ll be surprised the amount of people that will say the same thing, saying that they’ve had problems or they’ve someone in the family that’s had problems. It is in every family in some way. As hard as it is, ask for that bit of help.”

Listen to the full interview below.