By Áilín Quinlan
THE invitation is all part of the preparations for the third Clonakilty Wellness Week, which aims to help us all tackle our stress levels, practise meditation and mindfulness techniques, learn about nutrition and hear inspiring stories of ordinary people who have overcome significant challenges.
A Mad Hatter’s Coffee Morning will be held on Sunday, March 6th in the Clonakilty Parish Centre from 9am to 2pm to help raise funds for the Clonakilty Wellness Committee which is currently putting together a very packed programme of events for Wellness Week, which will run from Tuesday, May 3rd to Saturday, May 7th.
This coffee morning isn’t just about downing a quick cuppa in aid of the yearly fundraiser – there’s plenty of fun too, with facepainting, a cake sale, a raffle and a performance by local musicians followed by upcoming girl band Dispersion.
This year, the theme of the week – which by the way is open to the public and free to all – is all that’s good about the local Mental Health Service, explains Adrienne Adams, chairperson of the Clonakilty Wellness Committee and an Advanced Nurse Practitioner with the West Cork Mental Health Service.
‘The Mental Health Services are continuously evolving and becoming more recovery-focused,’ she says, adding that the upcoming Wellness Week will provide a number of workshops on stress management, Christian meditation, nutrition, mindfulness, recovery stories and reflexology.’
Local post-primary schools will also be very involved in the week, and talks will be provided by a variety of mental health professionals.
‘The idea is to promote positive mental health and to run workshops in conjunction with other organisations, working together to promote good mental health in the community.’
There will also be an opportunity to hear about new developments in mental health treatment, and in particular something called Open Dialogue, which is an inclusive approach to mental health currently being piloted successfully in the Bantry Sector under consultant psychiatrist Pat Bracken.
Open Dialogue, explains Adams is an approach which encourages trusted family members, friends or acquaintances who are close to those with mental health issues to become involved in their recovery from the beginning.
‘Traditionally family members would not have been invited to consultation sessions with the service user,’ explains Adams, adding that to date feedback from participants has been very positive.
‘When you have a mental health issue, you tend to isolate yourself from loved ones, but the Open Dialogue concept encourages you to stay connected,’ she says, adding that the programme strongly emphasises continuity of care.
Hence a service user’s support team – nurse, psychiatrist or occupational therapist for example – remains unchanged throughout their care, and people do not find themselves having to deal with different mental health expert. ‘It’s about the service itself and changing how we practise,’ Adams explains.
The organising committee is made up of a combination of mental health professionals and mental health service users – the idea is to include the insights of people who have had mental health issues.
They are, points out Adams, operating from the vantage point of their own experience and their insights are an integral part of the overall preparations.
The committee is now encouraging interested groups from within the community to get in touch about running workshops at the May event.
Over the past two years, Clonakilty Wellness Week has included significant inputs from Community Arts, the Irish Wheelchair Association and Tabor Lodge.
‘We have run workshops on addiction, stress management and meditation and facilitated talks on Mental Health,’ Adams says, adding that the week is run in partnership with the community.
‘We want the community to take ownership of the issue of mental health, so that it becomes everyone’s business,’ she says, adding that the idea of Wellness Week is to tackle stigma around mental health in the community.
‘There is still a lot of stigma about being in the mental health services or around suffering from a mental illness. Sometimes people themselves feel stigmatised or their families try to conceal it.’
If you are interested in running a workshop or want an opportunity to highlight an event, please contact Clonakilty Wellness Committee by emailing [email protected] or [email protected] or by phoning 087-6599526.