Promoting positive mental health has always been a focus of Laois Mental Health Collaborative Group, comprising Laois County Council, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois Partnership Company, Mental Health Ireland, HSE and youth sector representatives, organisers of the 2016 Laois CONNECTS Mental Health week which took place from Saturday 8th October, 2016 until Saturday 15th October,2016.
The programme for Laois CONNECTS Week, now in its sixth year, included some returning favourites, such as community organised walks, art workshops and Library events throughout the week.
A 4K Family Walk launched the week taking place in Emo with special guest Olympian Jessie Barr, Zumba warm ups and face painting, hosted by Laois Sports Partnership.
Some new events on the programme included a week-long Wellness Hub event took place in Laois Shopping Centre, Portlaoise.
The focus of the Wellness Pop-Up Hub is on positive mental health and wellbeing targeting all age groups and interests. Events included a primary school art project based on the theme “Inside Out”:- A series of Q&A workshops took place along with several skills workshops where you met professionals working in Mental Health Services and Promotion, to discuss any topics in relation to mental health and well being:- and a wellness cafe “saloon” where you could come along, have a cuppa and learn new ways to cope with the stresses and strains of life. A number of relaxation type therapies took place during the week including Mindfulness, Yoga, Massage and Zumba Dance, a fun fitness routine that helps increase self confidence and positive body image.
The Kathleen Gorman Memorial event took place this year in Heywood College, Ballinakill with special guest Paul Gilligan, CEO, St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, who will speak on “Teenage Emotional Wellbeing; a right or an aspiration”.
As part of the week, Students from Mountmellick Community College, who have recently achieved the Amber Flag, visited all the post-primary schools in Laois to highlight the importance of the campaign and to encourage positive mental health promotion. They delivered to each individual staff member and student “A Student Survival Kit for Everyday Life” and, a “Staff Survival Kit for Everyday Life”.
Dunamaise Arts Centre, supported by Laois CONNECTS, hosted “My Name is Emily” a free screening for schools.
The importance of the arts was highlighted this year by Mount Henry Art Studio, who hosted “The Art of Self Care” and, “Let’s Create” activities for children with autism. Laois Arts Office also hosted “A Toolbox for a Happy, Creative Mind” workshop with Artist/Filmmaker Lisa Fingleton.
Glosna House have come on board again this year with a diverse range of workshops during the week including “The Benefits of Acupuncture” with Collette O’Faolain, “Energy Healing” with Fiona A’Hearne and “Mindfulness Meditation” with Marie Byrne.
It is widely known that physical activity aids our mental health and in keeping with that theme, a number of sport related events including “Go for Life Fun Day” for the older adults along with “Overcoming Adversity through Sport” Talk with special guest Niall McNamee and “Coping with a Critical Incident” with special guests Liam O’Neill and Colin Regan took place.
A number of workshops also took place during the week including “Valuing Volunteers” organised by Laois Partnership Company and Mental Health Ireland aimed at people already volunteering.
Treo Nua Family Resource Centre hosted an Awareness Session “Your Teenager’s Mental Health” highlighting the early warning signs for Mental Health difficulties in young people and supportive steps parents can take organised by the HSE.
Laois CONNECTS Week takes place each year in October. For information about the programme or if you are interested in taking part or providing an item for the programme, please contact: Community Development Section, Laois County Council, Tel: 057 86 64107 or email : firstname.lastname@example.org