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'We are here': Derek McGrath and local gym owner support Waterford mental health event

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'We are here': Crowd turns out for Waterford Mental Health Association event

Derek McGrath, Billy O’ Sullivan and Peter Kelly at the open coffee morning in Brook House, Waterford

As part of Waterford Mental Health Association’s awareness week, an open coffee morning was held at the Brook House facility in the city where the ongoing effectiveness of mental health day hospital and support services was highlighted in addition to other positive stories.

Among those to attend and share in the message of the promoting good mental health was secondary teacher, RTE hurling analyst and former Waterford team manager Derek McGrath and local gym owner and kickboxing coach Billy O’ Sullivan. They were joined by local service users as speakers, who reiterated that socialisation can combat isolation and that there is a range of supports available locally to those who may require help.

The occasion at Brook House came in the same week as the marking of World Mental Health Day and the launch of a new dedicated free phone line operated by the National Ambulance Service, available 24 hours a day to assist people accessing mental health services (with details of over 1,000 services under the number 1800 742 444).

The coffee morning also marked 25 years since Brook House, located adjacent to Waterford Institute of Technology on the Cork Road in Waterford city, opened its doors as a mental health day hospital.

MC for the occasion and assistant director of nursing for Waterford Mental Health Services, Peter Kelly, said that service users and staff were delighted to hear inspirational contributions from Derek and Billy, thanking them for giving their time. Summarising the extent of supports provided at Brook House, he said: “A great reward for us here at Brook House is to see our service users support one another, and it was very good to have Derek McGrath and Billy O’ Sullivan in with us to contribute to that. Thirty-five to 40 people a day use Brook House and we have some 900 people on our books altogether.

“Essentially, Brook House caters for those over 18 who are referred to us. Brooke House is about socialisation. For our service users, it can be about coming here to take part in bingo, learn about and participate in relaxation techniques, or play board games. There are organised trips to Tramore, Kilkenny, Wexford and so on. We provide food and refreshments here. Our annual Christmas dinner in the Viking Ramada Hotel is always a very happy occasion.

 “We are in a very accessible location in Waterford, but our minibus can also transport people into us and home again (including outlying rural areas) during our Monday to Friday day time hours of operation. Nurses provide one-to-one support for clients on a daily basis, either face-to-face or over the phone. On site here, users have access to a multi-disciplinary team such as to psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers and addiction counsellors (catering for dual diagnosis).

“Service users of Brook House can get to the point where they are discharged from the services, but the important thing is to remind or advise people that a chat with their GP is as great starting point in making sure that they can be referred to the most appropriate services to suit their situations. In addition to encouraging those whom we are supporting, I hope that today’s open day at Brook House and the publicity around it will help address some of the gaps in knowledge out there about how to go about getting help. We are here,'' he added.