News & events

09 Oct 2017

West Cork Mental Health Month

West Cork Mental Health Services champion an arts approach to recovery

Mental Health Month is supported by the Mental Health Services (HSE) with its many developments in the area of the arts alongside the community

West Cork Mental Health Services (WCMHS) are currently developing community services in the Skibbereen area, including a new space at 49 North Street. The goal of North Street is to provide a creative space to promote recovery and wellness. The majority of community-based projects at the centre are a collaboration between mental health service users and the wider local community.

The centre will serve as a hub for a series of free events taking place throughout West Cork during Mental Health Month in October 2017, bringing together musicians such as John Spillane, Míde Houlihan and The Claddagh Rogues, local artists and mental health professionals.

Since 2011, the Mental Health Services in Cork have been paving the way forward for the strategic incorporation of the arts in mental healthcare, for example committing resources to embed a community-based programme throughout West Cork. The programme has been inspired by many and the contemporary recovery-based approach of services is pivotal, with individuals who attend services now having their say in the direction of things to come. 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 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 a 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, Cork Mental Health Services, added: ‘It’s fantastic to be a part of a developing culture of recovery focused care in the current Cork Services – I especially enjoy with my colleagues working with people who attend services. Listening and implementing their ideas and plans in order to enhance our care pathways for people is 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. 49 North St is a symbol of this and 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 Mr Ned Kelly for his support in helping this ethos and service to emerge. I would also like to thank Jean Barron for her invaluable assistance.’

In 2016, WCMHS appointed a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Kevin O’ Shanahan, to lead the arts and mental health programme. O’Shanahan is also a musician and a member of The Claddagh Rogues, a folk band born out of Cork’s Simon Community, where O’Shanahan was artist in residence in 2007. Led by James O’Flynn, the music of The Claddagh Rogues explores personal experiences of homelessness, addiction, mental health difficulties and recovery. The unique partnership between O’Shanahan and O’Flynn highlights the important role the arts can play in the recovery journey and The Claddagh Rogues will feature in a number of the West Cork events during Mental Health Month as part of a national performance and discussion tour.

Kevin O’Shanahan, Arts and Mental Health Co-ordinator at WCMHS, said: ‘West Cork really is unique in the vibrancy of its collaboration between the arts, community and mental health sectors. The events planned for October celebrate the work produced from such collaborations. A growing evidence base points towards strong links between participation in the arts and wellbeing.’

World Mental Health Day falls on 10 October each year, with the aim of promoting awareness and destigmatising mental health issues. WCMHS will partner on a number of free arts and mental health events throughout the month in Skibbereen, Bantry, Schull, Ballydehob, Castletownbere and Clonakilty.

Events include all day performances, workshops and discussions during World Mental Health Day; a series of concerts featuring The Claddagh Rogues, John Spillane, Míde Houlihan and the Bantry Commmunity Choir; the launch of the Recovery Stories project by Dr. Pat Bracken on 23 October; mindfulness and Gamelan music workshops for healthcare staff, in collaboration with Healthy Ireland; and art exhibitions. Family friendly events will take place at Wolfe Tone square, Bantry on 13 and 14 October incorporating music, movement, food and fun – All events are free of charge. For further details visit musicalive.ie and www.yourmentalhealth.ie


3 October | Skibbereen
Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Open Door Music Session, 7pm

5 October | Castletownbere
Beara Coast Hotel: The Claddagh Rogues and guests, 7pm

10 October: World Mental Health Day | Skibbereen
49 North Street, Centre for Wellness and Creativity: All day event featuring The Claddagh Rogues, guest musical performers, Gamelan Spréacha Geala and mindfulness workshops, 11am-9pm. Art exhibition by Tess Leak and Sarah Ruttle 1-5pm

11 October | Clonakilty
‘Tea on the Lane’ coffee shop in Spillers Lane: Coffee morning in association with Clonakilty Wellness Week, 10am

13 October | Schull
Newman’s: The Claddagh Rogues with Míde Houlihan, Karen Minihane and guests, 7pm

13 October | Bantry
Bantry Square: West Cork FeelGood present a family fun day of music, movement and food

14 October | Bantry
Maritime Hotel: Live Life and Sing concert hosted by Bantry Community Choir with John Spillane, The Claddagh Rogues and guests, 8pm

17 October | Bantry
Centre for Mental Health Care & Recovery, Bantry General Hospital: Art exhibition curated by Sarah Ruttle and Becky Keyser, performance by The Claddagh Rogues, 1pm. This event is invite only. Contact kevin.oshanahan@hse.ie for further information

23 October | Skibbereen
49 North Street, Centre for Wellness and Creativity: Launch of the Recovery Stories project by Dr. Pat Bracken, acoustic performance by The Claddagh Rogues, 1pm

26 October | Ballydehob
Levis’ Bar: The Claddagh Rogues with Míde Houlihan & guests, 7pm

49 North Street: The mission of this creative space is to promote recovery and wellness in collaboration with the local community. The majority of programmes are a result of partnership or co-production with service users and the wider local community. Some of these initiatives include Bantry Community Choir, Gamelan Spréacha Geala, The Happiness Ensemble, The Séisíun poets and The Ealaíon Artists. Through such collaborations, the centrality of empowerment in the process of recovery is delivered in practice. In this way, the arts and mental health programme at WCMHS is an exemplar of recovery in action. For further information on 49 North Street, email kevin.oshanahan@hse.ie

The Claddagh Rogues were born out of Cork’s Simon Community, which cares for the homeless and those at risk, in 2007. They have produced two EPs and their first album, For the Record, launched at the First Fortnight festival in January 2017 with guest performer John Spillane. James O’Flynn, lead singer and songwriter, spent most of his early life in prison, under psychiatric care and homeless on the streets of Cork. Fellow Claddagh Rogues founder member and lead vocalist Mags Kelly experienced addiction and homelessness. The new album pays tribute to Mags, who passed away in 2014, aged just 44. The Claddagh Rogues are embarking on a nationwide performance and discussion tour for Mental Health Month in October 2017. thecladdaghrogues.bandcamp.com

Míde Houlihan is a Clonakilty bred singer-songwriter whose storytelling is lyrically spellbinding and easy to relate to. Her song ‘Nuts and Bolts’ won the IMRO Christie Hennessy Song Competition in 2015 and is featured on her critically acclaimed album Coloured In, recorded with renowned producer and guitarist, Bill Shanley.

Emma Eager, MusicAlive
Ph: 086 3552789 | Email: eagere@tcd.ie

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Recent News & events / Archive