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Report hails the value of city’s unique out-of-hours mental health café


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Report hails the value of city’s unique out-of-hours mental health café Report hails the value of city’s unique out-of-hours mental health café

A Galway mental health café has been hailed as an international example of excellence.

The Galway Community Café, based in Mr Waffle opposite UHG, is Ireland’s first peer-led, out of hours mental health café service for adults

Open Thursdays to Sundays from 6.30pm to 11.30pm, the service is provided by trained staff who have lived experience of recovery from mental health challenges.

This innovative service is not only provided by people with experience of mental health distress and recovery, it was also developed by people with experience of availing of mental health services.

Thom Stewart, one of the founders of the service, explained: “You have to start from the end and work backwards.  Once you know where you need to end up, you can then start your journey, knowing that when you are done, you have created something meaningful”.

Evaluation research undertaken into the project by the University of Limerick found that customers highly valued (73.72%) the support they received from café staff.

One of the customers involved in the research said: “It helped me in a time of crisis when I couldn’t access psychiatric services out of hours”.

Another key finding highlighted that customers highly valued the peer relationship established with the café staff (92.7%).

“The peer support was tremendous especially during a catastrophic time in my life”, said one customer, while another said that the café was “unique in the sense that it’s not a client-doctor relationship but a community relationship … it’s away from the hospital and no one is going to spook you out”.

Café customers also highly valued the non-clinical setting that the service is provided in.

Located in Mr Waffle, which is a well-established Galway eatery during the day, proprietor Kevin Nugent provides his café to the mental health service in the evenings.

Dr Louise Murphy and Dr Owen Doody, University of Limerick and Co-Principal Investigators of this research, said that customers felt the café fostered “a safe, relaxed, non-judgmental social space to connect with others, giving a sense of empowerment, community, belonging”.

Dr James Turner, Associate Professor/Subject Group Lead Mental Health Nursing, Sheffield Hallam University, who flew in from the UK to attend an event in the city to publish the research findings, said:

“The Galway Community Café Service is an international example of excellence.”

He added that the service provided in the café, how it was genuinely co-produced and peer-led, was an approach that needed to be adopted widely when developing meaningful recovery orientated mental health services.

Dr Turner commended the café staff and the Project Lead, Maria McGoldrick for their hard work and commitment in developing such an invaluable service.

Maria McGoldrick, Project Lead and Area Lead for Mental Health Engagement in HSE Community Healthcare West, praised the Head of Mental Health Services, Charlie Meehan, for sponsoring and believing in this service; their community partners Mental Health Ireland; Kevin Nugent, proprietor of Mr Waffle and most importantly, the individuals who used their lived experience of mental health distress and recovery to develop such an excellent much needed service in Ireland.

“There is more work to do as we will continue to listen to our community and develop our service based on those needs.  We are making a difference”.

“Our service has been integrated into the National Crisis Resolution Model of Care that is being rolled out in a phased basis across the country.  We should be proud of ourselves today and what we have achieved”.

She encouraged anyone in the Galway community who may be experiencing mental health difficulties, to contact or  087-1085134 for support, and to book a table.

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