Mental Health services examined at conference

Carrick-on-Suir mental health, disability and community organisations were well represented at the "Your Mental Health" conference in Clonmel last week.

Carrick-on-Suir mental health, disability and community organisations were well represented at the "Your Mental Health" conference in Clonmel last week.

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council member Cllr Margaret Croke, who chairs the Tipperary Forum of People with Disability in Ireland, was Master of Ceremonies for the Park Hotel conference organised by PwDI in association with Tipperary Mental Health Services and the Carers Association.

Chairman of South Tipperary VEC Cllr John Fahy formally opened the conference attended by about 120 people and pointed out that mental health issues affect every strand of society.

Dr. Maeve Martin, Clinical Psychologist and Project Manager Tipperary Mental Health Services, addressed the conference on how mental health service users, carers and providers must work together to improve mental health services.

She said many positive things are happening like the closing of old unsuitable buildings, individually programmed treatment and increased funding. She also spoke passionately about a co-operative learning course in Dublin City University in conjunction with the HSE. Course participant Imelda Malone presented details of the course in DCU.

Dr Martin also referred to a Service User's Forum at St. Luke's Hospital, Clonmel that gives a voice to carers and she made the point that physical illness can often lead to mental health problems.

Anne Bateman, a native of Clogheen, spoke about her sister who suffered from manic depression and the lack of support for mental health patients.

She praised the staff of St. Clare's Ward at St. Luke's Hospital, Clonmel and regretted its closire in 2008.

Peg Rossiter, a columnist with The Nationalist, told the conference she viewed mental health as a straight line of balance with perpendicular interruptions now and then, and that failures during life in some form or other can often breach the line.

Ms Rossiter urged people not to be too self-critical and to try and allow for change and failure as circumstances change.

She advised people to endeavour to have two passions in life, one physical and one creative.

Maurene Howell from 'GROW' explained how her organisation helps people with mental health issues to cope with their problems She said people need a purpose in life and we all need a reason to get up in the morning.

She made the point that life is all about change and that nobody can change you only yourself quoting: "To live is to change and to live fully is to change frequently". She advise that education and understanding are the key to mental health matters.

The Carers Association's South Tipperary manager Richie Molloy highlighted the Association's work helping carers and the people they care for.

He spoke of the Association's respite workers, who are employed to give carers a break, the Carers Drop-In Centre in Clonmel, its supports groups in other towns such as Carrick-on-Suir.

Mr Molloy also urged people to remind politicians when they call during the election campaign, that more funding for carers is essential.

Dermot Hayes of People with Disability in Ireland told the conference he has seen many positive changes through the years. But disabled people needed equality and he warned it was critical that the Mental Health Capacity Bill be passed by the incoming Government.

There was a lively questions and answer session before Margaret Croke summed up the day's proceedings, and thanked everyone, especially Brid Gibbs, for helping her organise the conference.