JUST like we all have physical health issues from time to time, anyone can face mental health challenges. West Cork is an area with rural and remote populations spread across mountainous areas and three peninsulas where accessing supports for wellbeing and mental health can be a challenge.
I am therefore thrilled to be involved in the launch of a new mobile mental health service for West Cork communities called ‘The Wellbeing Network’, which was established by the National Learning Network and HSE’s West Cork Mental Health Services. It will serve population of almost 60,000 people.
The Wellbeing Network offers a preventative approach to mental health issues which and recognises the need for communities to have mental health resources on their own doorstep — access to non-clinical and medical supports, and information about self-care.
Our aim is to empower people to take ownership of their own mental health and wellbeing, to ensure they are well-equipped to protect themselves in times of difficulty and it is something I believe can have a positive impact towards strengthening a communities’ ability to care for themselves and each other.
On a practical level the Wellness Network will offer guidance to the public on how to treat common mental health ailments.
Just like you can take actions to improve your physical health immunity, there are relatively easy steps that can be taken to bolster your mental health immunity, such as the Five ways of wellbeing: Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Connect and Give.
The Wellbeing Network adopts an innovative ‘social prescribing’ model, which means that it will operate as a mobile service in response to requests from local stakeholders.
We have spent a great deal of time in consultation with community groups, resource centres, volunteers, parish members, ETB personnel and Community liaisons within the HSE to bring resources to the West Cork locality.
Our aim is to host at least two events per month in various localities and these will be tailored to what supports local people have said they want and need.
I would like to sincerely thank Senator Joan Freeman, County Mayor Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy and Irish Race Walker Rob Heffernan for launching the service recently.
We also launched a new website, thewellbeingnetwork.ie, which will offer the public information on general wellbeing, self-help videos and podcasts, and aims to get communities talking about mental health topics.
For more see www.thewellbeingnetwork.ie