Mental health pilot focus of Finnish film 'Open Dialogue'

A psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a GP will form a special panel to discuss the screening of an award-winning film about an innovative mental health approach introduced in West Cork less than a year ago.

The documentary Open Dialogue is due to be screened in the region early next month.

It focuses on an innovative Finnish mental health programme, currently being piloted under consultant psychiatrist Dr Pat Bracken in the Bantry-based Centre for Mental Health Care and Recovery.

The Open Dialogue programme was introduced to the Bantry area for adult users of the mental health services in September 2015.

The techniques, which have been in existence for over 30 years in Finland, emphasise consistency and continuity of care and treatment. As part of the programme, the same team remains assigned to a particular patient throughout his or her treatment process.

A documentary by filmmaker Daniel Meckler documentary, who visited the Open Dialogue model in Finland, will be screened in Clonakilty Park Cinema on May 4, at 3pm, as part of the town’s Wellness Week which runs from May 3-7.

Adrienne Adams, one of the co-ordinators of the week and an advanced nurse practitioner, said: “This is a very innovative approach which the staff of the West Cork mental health services, along with the families who have experienced it, would like to see extended to all areas of West Cork and Co Cork because it is an approach that is very respectful of people.”

Organisers are expecting a lot of public interest in both the film and the opportunity to ask questions of an expert panel which will be made up of Clonakilty-based GP Dr Yvonne Hayes, consultant psychiatrist Anne Harrington, and psychologist Dr Iseult Tamley, as well as family members and service users who have experienced Open Dialogue.

“It is an opportunity for people to talk to the professionals and ask questions, and to find out about the approach.”

The film and expert panel event is among a wide range of activities which have been organised for Wellness Week.

A brochure outlining the Wellness programme in which some 500 people are expected to participate, will shortly be available from Clonakilty shops, GP clinics, and the local tourist office.

The week’s events, organised by a mix of mental health professionals, service users, and representatives of local community groups, offers a programme of free activities from workshops and a “Big Sing” to mindfulness and art, meditation, gardening, singing, and music, as well as a Mass celebrating mental wellbeing.

Workshops for senior cycle pupils at second-level will be held in both of the town’s post primary schools while talks on positive mental health will take place in the local primary schools in Clonakilty.

The week is being organised by the Clonakilty Wellness Committee, which also wants to promote the good work that is happening within the local mental health service.

Ms Adams added: “Mental Health is everybody’s business and only as a community can we break down the wall of stigma.”

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