Aware relatives and friends programme is coming to Mayo this October

Aware, Ireland’s leading organisation providing support, education and information services around depression and bipolar disorder, today announced that the new Relatives and Friends Programme will be available to the people of Mayo this October. The free programme, six hours over the course of four weeks, aims to provide helpful information about depression and bipolar disorder, provide practical advice, and address the challenges faced each day when supporting a loved one experiencing depression or bipolar disorder.

Brid O’Meara, director of services at Aware, commented: "Supporters, whether relatives or friends, are pivotal to good mental health. We know from our Support Line service, where approximately 15 per cent of the calls come from people who are supporting a loved one, and from our Relatives Support Groups, the impact of being in that supportive role. We developed the Relatives and Friends Programme in response to a clear need for information, understanding, and practical support. We understand the worry, the anxiety, the frustration, the fear, the tiredness, the relief at any sign of improvement, and the devastation when we see deterioration in mood. We understand the tears, the anger, the joy, the sadness and sorrow that can be part and parcel of being in that supportive and caring role.”

The Relatives and Friends Programme was developed and piloted in 2016, and rolled out nationwide in 2017. The programme is specifically designed to equip people with the tools to understand and support a loved one experiencing depression or bipolar disorder, while also focusing on the self-care of the supporter. The content addresses the signs and symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder, offers practical advice on self-care, teaches coping tools, communication skills, and addresses the issues that arise for people who are supporting a loved one. The programme is delivered in workshop style to offer a participative learning environment. Each session is 90 minutes long. The workshops provide an opportunity for discussion but at no stage is anyone asked to share information if they do not wish to. Each group will contain a maximum of 20 people.

The Aware Relatives and Friends Programme will begin on Wednesday October 18 at Hotel Westport, Mayo. Online registration for the programme is now open and places are available to anyone over 18. Those interested in attending are encouraged to book quickly as places are limited and will fill up fast.

The Relatives and Friends Programme is free to attend, with a refundable €30 booking deposit in place to ensure participants who really want to book a place have the opportunity to do so. The booking fee will be refunded by contacting Aware once all four modules in the course have been completed. Reduced booking fees are available for students, the unemployed, OAPs, or those in possession of a medical card. To register and book your place visit www.aware.ie/services/relatives-friends-programme

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