In the second part of a two part series looking at the work carried out by Mindspace Mayo, Colm Gannon spoke to Peadar Gardiner, the project manager about where the service's roots came from and the central role of young people to the service.
The beginnings of Mindspace can be traced back six years, said Peadar. "In 2009 the Mayo Youth Mental Health Initiative was established to promote person-centred supports which fostered the positive mental health and wellbeing of young people in Mayo. The group was made up of representatives from the voluntary, statutory, and community sector. The group commissioned a study in 2011 to explore the mental health needs of young people in the county and looked at the feasibility of establishing a youth mental health support service. In total over 300 young people, GPs, and over 80 organisations participated in the research process. In addition participants who had availed of clinical support services told of their experiences. The research process highlighted the wide range of supports and services available to young people, communities, and organisations within Mayo. The research however identified some critical gaps with regard to access to appropriate services and supports for young people in Mayo, and on the basis of that research, Mindspace Mayo was established in late 2014”.
Mindspace is a collaboration of the HSE, Mental Health Ireland, and local community partners. The reaction from young people, schools, and other youth based groups has been really positive, Gardiner said. “Our centre in the Market Square, Castlebar, provides a welcoming space for young people to call in, get information, or have a chat one–to-one with a support worker. If a young person wants support, our staff are there to listen, without making judgements, and to provide supportive guidance. We also provide information and advice to anyone who is worried about a friend or young person in their life."
Central to the development of Mindspace has been the establishment of a youth panel. “Our youth panel act as a representative voice for young people throughout Mayo and assist with the decision making processes within the service and play an active role in representing Mindspace at a community level. They have been central to the design of our office, information literature, and our website. The environment in which we deliver our services plays a crucial role in defining how we value and respect young people, and the Mindspace building sets a positive welcoming environment for any young person to attend,” said Gardiner.
While the core work of Mindspace Mayo is with 15 to 25-year-olds, Mindspace has rolled out its work to younger children with a new pilot project it started in recent months. "BiBo [Breathe in Breathe Out] is a pilot programme we're running in five schools nationwide, it's a schools based programme to inspire young people to become more resilient, hopeful, creative and mindful, we're running it with sixth class and first year students. We have recently completed our first pilot in Scoil Muire agus Padraig, Swinford. The teaching modules focus on the areas of optimism, self-awareness, coping and resilience, empathy, courage and creativity and all consistently use mindfulness and mediation as a key resource. Further information on our BiBo programme can be found on www.bibo.life website,” he added.
The Mindspace model of mental health support is brief and goal focused with a strong emphasis on self-help. “It focuses on the young person’s strengths as well as their difficulties, and works to support young people within their local community. The focus is on enhancing the young person’s skills to be able to manage their own health and wellbeing.” You can call in to Mindspace Mayo in Market Square, Castlebar, between 2pm and 6pm, Monday to Thursday and from 10am to 3pm on Fridays. You can text it on 086 18 44 995, call (094 ) 906 7001, email [email protected], or visit www.mindspacemayo.ie, you can also find it on Twitter @mindspacemayo or like it on Facebook.