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Wellbeing through Participation’ - An event to mark World Mental Health Day

On Thursday, 6th October the Irish Embassy in London hosted an event to mark World Mental Health Day. An evening of discussion with the fitting theme of ‘Wellbeing through participation’ was raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilising efforts in support of mental health in the Irish community in Britain– in line with the objectives of the World Health Organisation’s Mental Health Day. (World Mental Health Day is on Monday 10th October 2016).

Some 100 participants and attendees from various community and cultural groups throughout the UK visited the Embassy to mark the occasion. The event was organised in conjunction with ‘Irish in Britain’, who aim to represent, support and improve the lives of the Irish people in Britain. The evening showcased projects and initiatives undertaken by organisations which address health inequalities and highlight issues targeting specific groups within the Irish community in Britain. Since 1984, the Irish Government has given financial support through its Emigrant Support Programme to voluntary agencies providing advice and welfare services to Irish emigrants overseas. In 2015 a total of £4,827,058 was paid to over 100 organisations. Supported projects are designed to deliver improved mental health and help access statutory mental health services, in particular for the most vulnerable, including those with complex needs, newly-arrived migrants and the elderly.

Dr Mary Tilki, formerly of Irish in Britain, chaired the event and there were presentations from Dr Jonathan Collie, co-founder of ‘The Age of no Retirement’ and a number of Irish community groups highlighting initiatives which encourage community engagement and wellbeing. These included the Irish Community Services Greenwich on their oral history programme, an Innisfree Housing healthy eating and allotment project and the St Finbarr’s Sport and Social club walking football initiative.

Charlotte Curran of Irish in Britainsays that “Participation in social and cultural activities is essential to maintaining mental health and wellbeing. Irish in Britain is glad to have the opportunity, in partnership with the Embassy, to mark World Mental Health Day 2016 by bringing together the Irish community to hear keynote speaker, Dr Jonathan Collie, present his views on the impact of new models for retirement on the Irish community. I am delighted that we also have three Irish organisations showcasing the activities they provide to maintain wellbeing.

Ambassador Dan Mulhall, hosting the event at the Embassy stated:

The mental health of Irish citizens living abroad is a key priority, as highlighted in Ireland’s Diaspora Policy 2015. I greatly enjoyed hearing Dr Collie’s vision for a world where age does not matter, as well as presentations from three inspiring Irish community groups. It is fantastic to see the number of invaluable initiatives being undertaken by members of the Irish community here in Britain to promote mental health and wellbeing.”