The HSE’s community healthcare services in the South East – as part of working with people who use mental health services and with their family members, carers and supporters – is developing local forums in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford.
The local forum will exist as a resource for service users and family members, carers and supporters to voice their experiences, raise issues and be consulted and involved in mental health services developments in their area.
The establishment of the forums follow on from recommendations in the national mental health strategy “A Vision for Change” and the HSE’s own national strategy for service user involvement.
The HSE’s 2015 mental health division operational plan included the strategic priority “that Service users, families and carers are central to the design, planning, delivery and evaluation of services."
With an increased public focus on mental health in mind and an emphasis on the HSE’s South East Community Healthcare services working collaboratively with service users, family members and carers, information meetings on the subject – open to all interested parties – are being held as follows:
· Monday 2nd September @ 7.30pm in the Activation Centre, Carlow.
· Monday 7th October @ 7:30pm in the Activation Centre, Carlow.
· Monday 4th November @ 7:30pm in the Activation Centre, Carlow.
· Monday 2nd December @ 7:30pm in the Activation Centre, Carlow.
The nine Community Healthcare service areas throughout the state have an Area Lead for Mental Health Engagement, with Paul Fallon being in place to serve the South East (services in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford).
Speaking about the information meetings, one of the aims of which is to develop the mental health forums in each area, Mr Fallon said: "The purpose of my post is to consult and present the views of mental health service users, family members and carers through engagement and partnership and to influence decision making at area management level in the South East.
"We have been holding public meetings and I am now looking forward to conducting more, as one of the steps in this important work.
"Along with my colleagues in the Community Healthcare services in the South East, I want to hear from people around in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford as to how we can further develop mechanisms for engagement of service users, their family members and carers.
"I will be dedicated to allowing for their involvement in the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of mental health services.
"Significant in, and to, all of this are the local forums. At these meetings, I will be communicating our project and proceeding from there to implementing guidelines for the local forums.
"The forums will be coming from the community and represent the voices of those with experience of our services. The membership will include service users, family members and carers and others may be invited to attend meetings.
"My colleagues and I are experts, both by profession and experience. I will be talking about my role at the meetings and my background as a family member.
"I moved especially to the South East to take up this role, so I have confidence in this project and I think it will be of benefit to everyone concerned with mental health services.
"I look forward to continued good attendance at the meetings and to working with as many people as possible in the South East in my role as an Area Lead for Mental Health Engagement."