EOLAS Project launches new mental health education handbooks for service users and family members

Adam Cox

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Adam Cox

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newsroom@longfordleader.ie

EOLAS Project launches new mental health education handbooks for service users and family members

The EOLAS Project has today (06/11/2018) launched two new mental health education and information handbooks for service users and family members, marking the next steps in delivering programmes to 400 new people per year across the country.
The EOLAS Project was started in 2010 to develop new information and learning programmes, both for people with experience of psychosis and for their family and friends. EOLAS is now delivered in over half of HSE mental health services nationally and close to 400 facilitators (service users, family members and clinicians) have been trained, with programmes delivered to over 1,400 service users, family and friends. The project is a partnership between HSE mental health services, Kildare Youth Services and Trinity College Dublin.
Commenting on the launch, Dr Pat Gibbons, Co-founder of the EOLAS Project, said: “What makes the project unique is the ability of the EOLAS Programmes to form a bridge between the peer and clinical perspectives, and provide an opportunity for service users, families and clinicians to learn from each other.”
The EOLAS Programmes move beyond traditional psychoeducation programmes (generally clinicians providing people with information about their mental health condition), in harnessing the ‘lived experience’ of the service users and family members themselves to inspire participants to find new ways of achieving recovery. The peer and clinician facilitators work hand-in-hand to guide the participants through a structured programme of learning about mental health difficulties and how to deal with them.    
Launching the handbooks, Tony Leahy, Senior Operations and Service Improvement Manager, HSE, said: “The EOLAS information and support programmes are a valuable resource to service users and families. EOLAS makes an important contribution to the Advancing Recovery in Ireland programme, which actively involves service users and their families alongside clinicians in making the HSE Mental Health Services more recovery focused.”
Dr John Hillery, President, College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, presenting at the launch, stated: “The power and strength of patients/service users, family members and clinicians working together towards agreed goals in recovery cannot be overestimated. The EOLAS information and support programmes are an example of combining that strength of partnership to further enrich the experience for all, but most importantly of achieving better outcomes and quality of life for those who use our services.”

EOLAS facilitator Finn van Gelderen described the difference the project has made for him: “EOLAS has been transformative for me in the way that I approach my illness and has given me the tools to advocate for the best possible outcome with the care that I receive.”
EOLAS family peer facilitator Margaret Duggan added: “The benefits of participation include the very valuable learning and information contained in the modules and the learning and support from my fellow participants. The knowledge gained helped me to navigate the system so that my family and I played our part in securing better outcomes for our family member who uses the services. As a co-facilitator of the programme for family members, I have built very good relationships with the service providers in my area.  This further enhanced my understanding of the structure and delivery of mental health services and gave me the opportunity to help other family members through their participation in the programme.”
For more information on the EOLAS Programmes, people using mental health services and their family members can speak to their mental health team or contact EOLAS directly through www.eolasproject.ie