Bantry mental health progamme is one of world’s top 25, says WHO

July 1st, 2021 5:10 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Cork South West’s three TDs, Holly Cairns, Christopher O’Sullivan, and Michael Collins, with Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy of NLN Bantry

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A MENTAL health programme in a West Cork facility has been selected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of just 25 around the world, for inclusion in a new initiative.

The National Learning Network’s was chosen to promote person-centred and rights-based approaches in community mental health services.

The ‘Home Focus’ programme was identified through WHO research as a leading example of a small outreach service in a rural setting, using rights-based approaches with a focus on recovery.

Featured in The Southern Star last November, the NLN initiative was the only programme selected from Ireland and will now be showcased globally as a best practice model.

It offers a non-clinical, peer-support service that enables individuals to work through their recovery at home.

‘As a team, we listen, we find out what matters to each individual, how we can support them to move from where they are, to where they want to be,’ said Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy, who is part of NLN Bantry management and original development team.

‘Recovery is about growth, and allowing people the space to come up with the answers themselves, allowing them to navigate their own recovery,’ he said.

‘We build a relationship with the individual and accompany them as they broaden their social networks, build new skills, attend appointments and take part in activities,’ he added. ‘It could involve assisting with applications to Mabs, to having a coffee in a café. It’s a privilege for us to be invited into someone’s home. We work with people rather than for people and part of the success of the programme is how we blend in to the community, reducing the stigma around mental health services. Our invisibility is key to the service.’

The programme delivers a unique service to individuals in the West Cork area which enables them to enhance their mental health and wellbeing and to promote recovery, within the comfort of their own homes. One of the aims is to reduce admissions to high-support psychiatric units and the recurrence of admissions, which can be a challenging experience for the individual and their family as well the high level of cost involved with in-patient services.

The Home Focus programme emerged from the realisation that many people who live in a dispersed rural setting with poor transport links are unable to access mental health supports or vocational input, resulting in ever-present issue of social isolation.

This led to West Cork Mental Health Service to work creatively with local and national service providers such as National Learning Network, the education and training division of Rehab Group, to develop a range of interventions to increase levels of connection between individuals and their own communities, and to facilitate access to training, education and employment opportunities. The team is funded to work with up to 34 people.

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