Advocating for the rights of people experiencing mental health difficulties is a central aspect of our strategic aims at SPMHS.
We made numerous submissions in this respect during 2017, including submissions to the Department of Health, the Department of Justice and Equality, the draft Health Information Policy Framework and the Seanad Public Consultation Committee on Children’s Mental Health in Ireland. We also made submissions to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Children’s Mental Health in Ireland and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health on the General Scheme of the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill.
Vital work in raising awareness
In 2017, SPMHS continued our vital work in raising awareness for mental health issues nationwide and advocating for a society where all citizens are given equal opportunity to live mentally healthy lives.
Communications key activities 2017
Walk In My Shoes Campaign
Through our hugely successful Walk In My Shoes (WIMS) campaign, SPHMS continued our active awareness raising work, reaching into more communities throughout the country than ever before.
In February 2017, we launched our newest advocacy campaign #StillJustMe with the aim of breaking down the stigma around some of the most prevalent and poorly understood mental health issues facing Irish society.
A series of short films and blog articles written by mental health experts and those with lived experience of mental health difficulties were produced as part of the #StillJustMe campaign. Divided into five phases, each short film from the anti-stigma campaign focuses on a different mental health issue; eating disorders, depression, addiction, psychosis and schizophrenia.
The campaign was very successful with a Facebook reach of 67,925 and 21k YouTube viewings.
Another new initiative for 2017 was our Mission Possible School Achievement Awards. This new initiative was developed to recognise schools that promote mental health and wellbeing. Schools submitted evidence of their wellbeing initiatives, events and projects. The Awards Ceremony took place on April 28th in SPMHS where 30 schools attended.
Other key WIMS activities 2017:
- Swift 350 Festival
The Swift 350 Festival run by St Patrick’s Cathedral in 2017 marked the 350th anniversary of our founder Jonathan Swift’s birth in 1667. During 2017, we at SPMHS, held a number of cultural events in-house to investigate a variety of mental wellness and illness-related issues. These included a creative writing event, an emerging artists exhibition, a Lived Lives mediated arts/science exhibition, historical tours of St Patrick’s Hospital and our Founder’s Day conference.
- Founders Day
Each year, SPMHS hosts its annual conference to mark the legacy of its founder, Jonathan Swift, and his vision for excellence and innovation in mental health care. This year’s Founder's Day was held on the 350th anniversary of Swift’s birthday on November 30th, with a focus on Swift and Addiction.
Founder’s Day is our most prestigious annual event celebrating excellence in clinical practice in mental healthcare. It brings together academics, clinicians, members of the multi-disciplinary teams and service users.
- Self-Harm Awareness Conference:
Our second self-harm awareness conference in conjunction with Pieta House took place in the Aviva Stadium on March 1st. Keynote speakers were Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon and Blindboy.
#MindYourSelfie consists of a series of downloadable mental health eBooks, which we launched via a successful social media campaign in 2016. In 2017, Walk in My Shoes launched #MindYourSelfie resource packs for schools. The packs contain activities and mindfulness audio clips for teachers to use in the classroom and are available on www.walkinmyshoes.ie .
- Transition Year Project:
One of our most popular advocacy initiatives is the annual Transition Year Project. In 2017, we welcomed 100 students into St. Patrick’s for the week long programme. On completion, students become Wellbeing Ambassadors and return to their schools and communities with an added understanding of positive mental health.
- Short Film Competition:
The Walk in my Shoes Short Film Competition took place in November 2017, with a screening of all the shortlisted films.
- WIMS Radio
WIMS Radio, Ireland’s only pop-up radio station dedicated to the promotion of positive mental health, returned in 2017 to broadcast live from St Patrick’s University Hospital from Monday 9th October until Friday 13th October to mark World Mental Health Awareness Week.
Developing Service User Participation
We continue to encourage active service user participation through our Service Users and Supporters Council, SUAS. An evaluation of SUAS was carried out in 2017, the results of which will be available in 2018.
A service user nominee sits on our board of Governors and service users participate in a wide range of areas across SPMHS.
SPHMS is the first mental health organisation to participate in the National Adult Literacy Agency’s (NALA) Plain English initiative. We have committed to becoming a more literacy friendly organisation and to using plain English in our written and verbal communications where possible. We regularly evaluate and continually improve our literacy friendly service. Our multidisciplinary Literacy Committee with service user representation meets quarterly.
For several years now, the HR Department at SPMHS has contributed to enhancing service user participation and involvement in the hospital by inviting service users to sit on interview panels for relevant roles. The insights and contributions from service user panel members have proven to be invaluable and we will continue to develop this practice.