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West Cork Mental Health Initiative to Begin
This Wednesday sees the launch, in Drimoleague, of The Wellbeing Network, a new mobile service based in West Cork. Its aim is to encourage the residents in the sprawling coastal region to improve and protect their mental health and well-being, through online and real-time activities and initiatives.
Run by Cork and Kerry Community Healthcare and the National Learning Network, the service will serve a population of 60,000.
“Our goal is to penetrate rural areas, as not everyone can tap into the facilities available in busy towns or large urban hubs,” said project coordinator Kathleen Harrington.
We want to get into a rural area and provide opportunities for people to get out and connect socially, through activities and events.
Ms Harrington said that while the region’s population was relatively small, West Cork was very large and characterised by substantial mountainous areas and three peninsulas.
“The road and public transport infrastructure are poor, so providing a community-based service is crucial to ensure the successful provision of information and ideas about mental health and well-being, and to strengthen the ability of communities to care for themselves and each other,” she said.
The initiative, she emphasised, was different to the medical model of mental health.
It will work closely with communities and recognises the need for individuals to access non-clinical resources, in order to improve their mental health and well-being.
To this end, Ms Harrington is consulting with communities throughout the region to identify what new resources they feel they need, and also to pinpoint existing, free or affordable resources, in terms of physical, social, or educational activities.
The focus, she says is on the Five Ways of Wellbeing: Be active, keep learning, connect, give, and take notice. She expects that before the end of the year, the network will let communities sample activities that may be new to them or to their areas, such as mindfulness sessions in Castletownbere, or pilates or art in Goleen.
Based on feedback from communities, we will be putting programmes in place in communities that people have indicated that they’d really like,” said Ms Harrington.
“We will be visiting different communities, at different times, over the weeks following the launch.”
Features of the network are:
- An interactive website that will highlight free and affordable options in promoting wellbeing, in terms of getting active, developing mindfulness, and encouraging sociability and learning
- Self-care videos, offering tips on stress management, good-mood foods, five ways of wellbeing, and developing emotional resilience
- Information on good self-care, such as better sleep and maintaining boundaries in life
- Recovery stories/podcasts from people involved in West Cork Mental Health Services, which give light to people going through difficult challenges
- All events and initiatives will be streamed on wellbeingnetwork.ie