As part of Mental Health Month this October, West Cork Mental Health Services are championing an arts approach to recovery through various events in locations across West Cork, including a new ‘hub’ in Skibbereen, writes Kieran O’Mahony
A NEW hub will open this month in Skibbereen to provide a creative space to promote mental health recovery and wellness.
The opening will be part of Mental Health Month with World Mental Health Day taking place on October 10th.
West Cork Mental Health Services (WCMHS), who are developing the hub, are holding a number of free arts and mental health events throughout the month in Skibbereen, Bantry, Schull, Ballydehob, Castletownbere and Clonakilty.
Kevin O’Shanahan, arts and mental health co-ordinator at WCHS explains: ‘West Cork really is unique in the vibrancy of its collaboration between the arts, community and mental health sectors. ‘The events planned for this month celebrate the work produced from such collaborations. A growing evidence base points towards strong links between participation in the arts and well being.’
Kevin was appointed to lead the arts and mental health programme last year. He is also a musician and a member of The Claddagh Rogues, a folk band born out of Cork’ Simon Community, where he was an artist in residence in 2007. Led by James O’Flynn, their music explores personal experiences of homelessness, addictions, mental health difficulties and recovery. The unique partnership between both men highlighted the important role the arts can play in the recovery journey. The Claddagh Rogues will feature in a number of the West Cork events during Mental Health Month including the ‘Live Life and Sing’ concert at the Maritime Hotel on October 14th, which will be hosted by Bantry Community Choir with John Spillane.
WCMHS newly developed space at 49 North Main Street in Skibbereen will also serve as a hub for a series of free events taking place throughout the area.
Since 2011, the Mental Health Services in Cork have been leading the way for the strategic incorporation of the arts in mental healthcare, for example committing resources to embed a community-based programme throughout West Cork.
Placing the creative arts at the centre, rather than at the margins, of service delivery, the Cork Mental Health Services have contributed to changing healthcare culture, which values the input of the professional artists and arts organisations in recovery-focused care.
Dr Pat Bracken, consultant psychiatrist and retired clinical director at WCMHS said: ‘My experience has taught me that people find their way out of mental health problems along many different pathways. Professionals need to be open, creative and flexible if they are to be of help rather than a hindrance in regard to recovery.
‘This is why the creative arts are so important. They provide individuals with different ways of finding confidence and the strength to move on positively in their struggles. But they also help to change the culture of services themselves. They bring a different way of understanding and responding to problems and help services to work with more imagination and flexibility.’
Declan McCarthy, assistant director of nursing at Cork Mental Health Services said it was fantastic to be a part of a developing culture of recovery focused care.
‘I especially enjoy working with people who attend our services. Listening and implementing their ideas and plans in order to enhance our care pathways for people in truly rewarding.
‘Our current Community Mental Health teams and our Centre for Mental Health Care and Recovery in Bantry and indeed throughout Cork are continuing to build structures and support networks that help serve our communities.’
Declan added that 49 North St is a symbol of this.
‘Although located in Skibbereen, it will and is open to engaging with all communities throughout West Cork. I would like to thank our Area Director of Nursing, Ned Kelly for his support in helping this ethos and service to emerge and I would like to thank Jean Barron for her invaluable assistance.’
As well as performances by singers such as Mide Houlihan throughout this month there will also be workshops, art exhibitions, discussions.
On October 23rd the launch of the Recovery Stories Project by Dr Bracken will take place at 49 North Street, with an acoustic performance by The Claddagh Rogues.
Family friendly events will take place at Wolfe Tone Square, Bantry on October 13th and 14th incorporating music, movement, food and fun.
• All events are free of charge and more details can be found at:
www.yourmentalhealth.ie and www.musicalive.ie