Communities set to ‘Feelgood’ for first festival of mental health

Communities throughout West Cork will celebrate the region’s first ever ‘Feelgood Festival’, a mix of sports, good food, music and companionship later this week.

This is the first year of the event which begins on Friday next and continues on Saturday, in conjunction with World Mental Health Day.

“The idea of the festival is two-fold,” said Kevin Shanahan, arts and health coordinator with the West Cork Mental Health Services.

“First, it’s about getting out the message to people that there’s lots going on in their community that can contribute to their positive mental health.

“Some of these activities, such as singing, are being demonstrated during the festival — singing has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, elevate the mood and be of benefit to people who suffer from depression.”

Other activities include movement and food; many of them, Mr Shanahan explains, are simply “the ordinary things in life” which bring a feeling of happiness or contentment.

The second aim is to inspire people to go out and organise events in their own communities to promote good mental health.

Although the arts and mental health service has held events to mark World Mental Health Day for the past three years, up to now the focus has been primarily on arts and mental health.

However, the Feelgood festival now incorporates food events including a “Stew Off” in which visitors get to sample different types of stew, along with sporting activities and a much wider representation of people from within the community.

The festival begins early Friday, 7.30am, with a dance performance at Bantry’s Wolfe Tone Square by the ‘Morning Glory’ dance group, followed by a variety of activities. the HSE Cumasú or Wellness Bus will act as a centre for information and hospitality over both days.

The evening brings a ‘Live Life and Sing’ concert at the Maritime Hotel at 8pm celebrating the legacy of the late Donal Walsh.

On Saturday, sporting heroes from West Cork will be acknowledged in an awards ceremony in Bantry Square.

The festival will culminate with ‘The West Cork Big Sing’ when Caz Jeffreys invites all ages to join singers from all over West Cork for an hour of singing and feelgood vibes at a marquee in Bantry square at 4pm.

CoAction, West Cork Development Partnership, RehabCare the GAA, National Learning Network and West Cork Mental Health Services are among the partners helping to coordinate the event.

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