Written By Guest Author Robert Riley

Putting service users and their families at the centre of the mental health policy in Ireland

This week on Mediascope Ellen interviewed the CEO of the Shine charity, Nicola Byrne.

Nicola started out as a social worker but has always gravitated towards supporting those with mental health needs.  Nicola joined the HSE and worked again in the area of mental health. She is passionate about bringing change to how mental health services are delivered and making those changes stick.  She puts the service users’ needs at the center of any changes, “If we don’t bring service users along with us then change will fail”. After seeing there was an opening for a new CEO for Shine, she knew it was the job for her.

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Shine – Supporting people affected by mental ill health

Shine is a mental health charity, which was set up in 1979. Shine advocates for people with mental health needs and their families.  They provide help and support to their users and raise awareness on this important issue. The most recent success has been winning a bid to host the reference group for the HSE’s new policy on mental health in Ireland, a Vision for Change. This means that the service users and their families will have the opportunity to shape the new policy and have their voices heard. They will have input on the delivery of the services and the language used to communicate with users.

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Mental Health in the Media

With the issues of mental health being talked about more and more in both media and in day-to-day life, the language being used has become more important. There is still a stigma around mental health and Shine are dedicated to reducing this. How mental health issues are framed by the media have a role in the perception of mental health and those affected by it. To highlight the issue, Shine has set up its own media resource called Headline. Headline was set up to monitor the reporting the mental illness and suicide in Ireland, and how it is being reported. Headline also runs workshops for those studying media and journalism in college. It assists media to frame their approach when reporting on mental health issues.

Awareness and support

Shine also has a strong role in raising awareness for mental health. Although it is talked about more than is was, but there is still a long way to go. To promote mental health awareness, they have set up their See Change programme. The aims of the programme are to reduce stigma, challenge discrimination and grow an environment where those with mental health problems can seek help with respect. Green Ribbon Day is part of this campaign.

Nicola’s next aim is to see standardize mental health services provided across the country. This would mean that people receive the same standard of mental health services in every county in the country. As it stands, the distribution of services is uneven, and users do not have equal access to the supports they need. No doubt, with Nicola Byrne at the helm, Shine will play a major role in improving the quality of services for users and their families.

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