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Pat Bracken: Curious Minds Will Find a Way

New Mental Health Talk Series Launched as Part of Local Festival ‘Féile na Carraige’

Internationally renowned psychiatrist Dr Pat Bracken delivered first talk of series on new approaches toHealth and Well-Being’ with 100 people in attendance.

A ground-breaking series of talks on mental health, Curious Minds Will Find a Way – A New Approach to Health and Well-Being’, was launched on Wednesday 18 October at 12.30pm in St. Comgalls, Falls Road as part of the West Belfast based festival, Féile na Carraige.

The New Script for Mental Health campaign has partnered with Glór na Mona, a West Belfast Irish-medium Youth and Community organisation, to develop this series, in an effort to foster critical conversations around the existing approach to mental health and to explore alternatives to the dominant medical model.

The inaugural event featured Dr. Pat Bracken, an internationally renowned psychiatrist, who was interviewed by Dr. Eilish Rooney, former director of the Transitional Justice Institute and lecturer in Community Development in Ulster University.

Dr. Bracken works to promote the expertise of people with lived experience of mental health conditions and is an advocate of the recovery approach in mental health care.  He calls himself a ‘critical psychiatrist’ and was one of the founders of the Critical Psychiatry Network. Dr. Bracken, who worked for decades as a psychiatrist in the south of Ireland, helped research and write a new international guide to good practices in mental health for the World Health Organisation, published in 2021.

Sara Boyce, Organiser with New Script for Mental Health explained why their mental health campaign has teamed up with Glór na Mona on this talk series:

“From the UN and the WHO at the global level, to people in local communities everywhere, there is a growing movement to move beyond the now outdated medicalised model of mental health. To stop focusing on chemical imbalances and start focusing on power imbalances. People know only too well the serious harm being caused by the individualised, medicalised model of mental healthcare.

“The results of New Script’s recent community consultation show that together, people using mental health services and those working in these services, have solutions to the current crisis, solutions that put connection and choice at the centre. Solutions that address the context of people’s lives. We are delighted to partner with Glór na Mona, a community-based organisation committed to enhancing health and well-being through participation and solidarity, for this series of talks.

Glór na Móna Director,Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh stated :

“We are delighted to partner with New Script for Mental health campaign who are building an exciting and powerful movement from below that are championing a more humane approach to emotional distress.

”Féile na Carraige aims to create organic and creative spaces for the community to come together and think critically about how we can self-organise and develop alternative ideas that challenge inequality and the denial of dignity to those who need it most.

“In this sense, Dr Pat Bracken is the perfect advocate to launch this new series which aims to challenge narrow pathological and individualised models that medicalise emotional pain and distress. New Script campaigners are bringing our attention to the need to prioritise ‘choice, connection and community’ when discussing and planning how we can collectively develop new approaches based on solidarity and well-being. It is a massive coup for the West Belfast community that Pat has agreed to contribute to this conversation.”

Dr. Pat Bracken said

“I am really honoured to have participated in the Féile na Carraige festival in West Belfast. Across the world many people are attempting to get beyond out-dated ways of thinking about and responding to mental health struggles and crises. New kinds of conversations about mental health are emerging ‘bottom-up’ from people with lived experience, their families and communities. I am delighted to be involved with this process in West Belfast.

“Surely we as a community can come up with alternatives to the predominant medical model which place’s the Doctor and their social standing in the ascendency as the arbiters of all recovery. Doctors and GPs can assist and support in the process. Communities should be supported and empowered to find their own creative solutions and alternatives.

”Decolonisation is now a global phenomenon and decolonising psychiatry and psychology is also an urgent need. Reclaiming language, culture and nature are central to these efforts and collectively undoing the horrors of colonisation.

”A proud and resilient community such as West Belfast, with its long history of resistance and bottom up self-organising, is undoubtedly the perfect place to resource impactful, innovative and creative alternative approaches that build positive mental health at grassroots level.”

Notes to Editor

For more information contact Sara Boyce, Organiser, New Script for Mental Health on sara@pprproject.org 07864074235 or Glór na Móna Director, Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh07841101630

More information on New Script for Mental Health here

More information on Glór na Mona here

WHO Guidance and Technical Packages on Community Mental Health Services here

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