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Exchange House Challenges Mental Health Prejudice

On the 9th of January 2014, 3 staff members from Exchange House attended “No Room at the Inn” in Wood quay venue, DCC.

The Family support services staff included Sarah Murray, Social Worker, Ronan Gilchrist, NTSAP Men’s Development worker and Trisha Mc Keever, NTSAP Suicide Prevention Trainer. It was hosted by the Mental Health Reform as part of First Fortnight, an arts festival that runs for the first two weeks in January. First Fortnight aims to challenge mental health prejudice through creative arts.

The event was chaired by Marian Finucane and the discussion was around the access to Mental Health services for people in crisis. On the panel of speakers were June Shannon, journalist Irish Medical News, Maria Duffy, mental health blogger, advocate and service user and Dr. Pat Gibbon, Consultant Psychiatrist of Kildare/West Wicklow Mental Health Service.

Dr. Pat Gibbons discussed the innovative community mental health service in Kildare/West Wicklow. The team includes psychiatrists, community mental health nurses, social worker, occupational therapist and psychologist.  The service is of a high standard resulting in lower A&E presentations, less and shorter hospital admissions and greater quality of life for its service users.

Following the talks by the panel, there was a Q&A session. Members of the audience spoke of their positive and negative experiences with the mental health service. Exchange House and NTSAP contributed to the Q&A session raising the issue of access to mental health services for Irish Travellers. Overall, there was a general call for more community mental health services that are of a high standard, are resourced and are responsive to the needs of the service user.

For early 2014 NTSAP will be visiting Traveller services and providing information session on mental health awareness. If your service would like to link in with NTSAP, please contact us at 01-8721094 or 

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