PHOTOS – Limerick Mental Health Consumer Panel

Pictured above (left to right): Richard and members of Limerick Mental Health Consumer Panel Sonia Flanagan, Eamonn Shine, Angie Lindenau, Sylvia Brickenden

Limerick Mental Health Consumer Panel is hosting the first conference to bring together mental health consumer panel groups from all over Ireland in Thomond Park on September 8, 2014.

Working off the theme “From Passive Recipient to Active Participant”, the conference is to explore ways of involving people with lived experiences of dealing with the challenges of mental health issues of all kinds more actively in the process of their own recovery in the context of HSE mental health services.

Dr Shari McDaid, director of Mental Health Reform said: “There has been enormous growth in the involvement of service users and family members in planning mental health services at local and national level since the late 1990s. This presents opportunities but also challenges for creating more equal power relationships. A recovery-orientated approach to mental health needs to involve service users as active participants in their own mental health care. This can help to improve the quality of services and ensure that services meet the needs of service users.”

In addition to a number of keynote speakers, including Chair of Limerick Area Mental Health Management, Michael Jennings, and Dr Liz Brosnan, an expert in Mental Health Service – User Dynamics, the agenda also features discussions and workshops that encourage the active participation of conference attendees.

Member of Limerick Mental Health Consumer Panel, Sylvia Brickenden, a carer for twenty years said: “As a carer within the Mental Health Service I welcomed the launch of ‘Vision for Change’ in 2006 at the Greenhills Hotel. This is a roadmap specifically designed for the good of the user of the service. It is up to each and everyone involved in implementing the ‘Vision for Change’ to make sure that those who use the service get the best care available. All through the years the Consumer Panel has made enormous strides to link up with all relevant bodies to ensure that every effort is made to improve the carers’ lot.”

Mental Health Consumer Panels serve as a mouth piece for mental health service users, and carers, who liaise with the HSE to highlight the experiences of dealing with services available. They aim to highlight issues that may arise and communicate in which areas and in what ways the members of the Consumer Panel see room for improvement, the goal being to make Mental Health Services more user-friendly and easier to navigate for everyone involved.

Involvement with Mental Health Consumer Panels doesn’t only help improve services, but also empowers service users, as JJ O’Shaughnessy points out: “I’ve spent most of my life feeling completely useless;
And this is a way I can finally feel useful.”

Photos by David Woodland for ILoveLimerick.com 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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