Pictured at the Wellness Café in Letterkenny are Edel O’Doherty, Cathy McCloskey, Raymond Guthrie and Tina Duffy
A mental health education project which adopts an innovative approach to helping people improve their mental health and wellbeing has delivered courses to 1,400 people since it was set up two years ago.
One of the areas involved in the programme covers Derry, Limavady, Strabane and West Donegal.
The cross-border Innovation Recovery Project, which is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, delivers a wide range of free, local educational courses which promote mental health well-being and recovery.
The courses are delivered across three geographical cross-border regions and are written and delivered by people with their own experience of mental health needs, alongside those with professional experience and knowledge. Fourteen of the 24 staff currently working on the Innovation Recovery Project have lived experience of mental health needs. The aim of the courses is to help participants tap into their own personal resilience and resourcefulness.
John Meehan, Project Chair of the Innovation Recovery Project commented: “Two years into the project, it is great to see the progress which has been made in helping people to recover from mental illness and take control of their own wellbeing through an empowering education model, rather than relying on traditional therapeutic interventions alone. Experience from Recovery Colleges in other regions shows that this education model has a vital role to play in helping people to move forward on their journey of mental health recovery, alongside therapy where appropriate.
“It is clear that a more collaborative, innovative approach is required if we are to successfully address the increasing mental health issues in today’s society. This education model effectively enables people with their own experience of mental health conditions to shape mental health education for others, equipping the students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to maintain mental wellness and resilience.”
Over the past two years, some of the most popular courses have included: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), Understanding Depression, Mindfulness, and Learning to Like Yourself. There are around 100 courses available in total, with around 80% of the students attending to date being female.
“We are constantly reviewing and tailoring our educational courses to ensure they are meeting the needs of local communities.” Cathy McCloskey, Project Manager of the Innovation Recovery Project added. “This is very much an ongoing process, with those who provide services and those who have lived experience of mental health needs and their families coming together to co-produce and co-deliver training and support programmes. It is a challenge to encourage men to come out and sign up to courses delivered in classrooms, however we are currently exploring more hands-on, practical courses which may appeal more to men.
“The cross-border aspect to this project has helped us widen access and participation by extending the provision of courses to outlying and rural areas. It has also created a cross-border network of support and expertise amongst the Recovery teams in each area. This is really helping us reach more people and use resources more effectively.”
The aim of the project over its lifespan of 4 years is to engage 8,000 people in mental health recovery education. More project staff will be recruited and trained in the coming months to help achieve this. As well as educational courses, meeting hubs such as the Recovery Café in Derry City and The Wellness Café in Letterkenny have been launched and operate weekly with the support of staff from the Innovation Recovery Project. Prospectuses for courses in 2020 will be launched in the New Year. Further information about the Innovation Recovery Project can be found at www.cawt.com/go/irecovery and course information is available on Facebook and Twitter @InnovationRecov.
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