Pedalling for positive mental health

The third annual Coast to Coast cycle from Galway to Dublin from Friday to Sunday in aid of St Patrick’s Hospital Foundation aims to raise vital funds to provide greater access to mental healthcare nationwide.

The money raised will also be used to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of mental illness and to develop new facilities for mental health service users.

St Patrick’s University Hospital in Dublin is Ireland’s largest independent provider of mental health services. It is a not-for-profit organisation which uses the finance raised through the foundation to provide facilities and services for the assessment, treatment and aftercare of people experiencing psychiatric illness.

It will open its fifth community-based Dean Clinic in Galway at Merchants’ Road in August. It will cater for the Connacht region and will be staffed by a general adult psychiatric team.

The facility will provide a multi-disciplinary mental health assessment for people more than 18 years, individual care plans for clients following assessment and in-patient care at St Patrick’s University Hospital if required.

The Dean clinics provide problem focused, client centred therapy for a wide range of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and phobias, stress-related disorders, addiction and eating disorders. The Galway Dean clinic will also provide group programmes and awareness lectures on a range of mental health topics, including anxiety management, mindfulness, addiction and aftercare.

Tom Maher, the director of clinical services at St Patrick’s Hospital, said throughout 2010 it began to identify an increase in people with new onset depression that appears to be related to, among other things, the current economic decline.

“However in general we feel that more people are starting to talk about their mental health and the increased numbers contacting our helpline reflects that.”

An internal survey among service users at the hospital reported that 62 per cent of people waited more than a year before seeking mental health advice.

Paul Gilligan, the chief executive of St Patrick’s, stated that studies indicate the longer it takes people to get help, the longer it will take to recover from a mental illness.

“People can and do recover and it’s important that we use every opportunity to talk about mental health and to encourage those who need help to seek this help.”

Mr Gilligan explained that in keeping with the principles of government mental health policy “A Vision for Change” the hospital’s aim is to open mental care access points in communities around the country.

“We are well on target to achieve this with four community Dean Clinics already opened and a further two opening this summer, one in Galway and another in south Dublin. It is fundraising initiatives such as the Coast to Coast Cycle that will help us to accomplish this goal.”

Participants in the fundraising cycle which kicks off tomorrow (Friday ) are asked to raise €550 each (€50 registration fee ).

For further information on the cycle log onto www.stpatsfoundation.ie or call Zadrhiena (01 ) 2493596 or [email protected]

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