Wellness Recovery Network launches new Lisburn group

Throughout the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, people have become increasingly aware of the importance of looking after their mental health.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 12:34 pm

It is not always an easy task to prioritise mental health but help is on hand thanks to the Wellness Recovery Network, which has recently set up a support group at the Bridge Community Centre in Lisburn.

James Keenan, Wellness Recovery Co-Ordinator for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said that following the success of the Network in Newtownards and Downpatrick, he was keen to establish a group in Lisburn, which will host peer conversations, a support group each Monday online via zoom and the wellness social group will take place on the first Friday of every month at the Bridge Community Centre.

“The message I really want to share across the community is to normalise mental health, to overcome stigma and know that mental health and personal recovery is possible,” explained James. “18 months ago, The Wellness Recovery Network was running in Newtownards on the second Friday of each month, which was successful with a high number of people attending. However coronavirus resulted in the network closing it’s doors.

“Lockdown was announced and with everyone permitted to stay indoors, the network sought the opportunity to run a weekly session online providing peer support and boardgames. The audience grew and became a success, the demand for another session was sought and rather the one session a month, we decided to facilitate two each week.”

As the restrictions began to ease, the Network was relaunched and it proved to be Month passed and lockdown a roaring success.

Plans went under way to grow the network and in August the Downpatrick Network was launched at The Ballymote Centre. It also proved popular with the local community so James aimed to continue that success by launching the third network in Lisburn in October with the attendance of the South Eastern Trust Chief Executive Roisin Coulter, Director of Adult Services Margaret O’Kane, Service Improvement Mental Health Manager Fiona Dagg and Chairman Jonathan Patton, all of whom praised the work the network does and the importance of talking openly about our mental health. James shared his story of his lived experiences of mental health, adverse childhood experiences and suicide and how the network saved his life as a service user in 2018.

“When you hit rock bottom, in despair, feeling you’re not deserving of life or the ability to be happy and live a fulfilled life, you see no future and tomorrow seems impossible,” said James.

He said that he always believed asking for help was the hardest thing to do, but it turned out to be the easiest.

“There is a stigma associated with mental health, the judgment is still visible, but the more people who seek the help they deserve, recovery will be possible and I am living proof of that,” James continued.

He is encouraging everyone to talk openly and honestly about their mental health and wellness and to take up the opportunity to invest in their time at the wellness recovery network.

“ I’m proud to have launched two new networks in the South Eastern Trust area and to be the wellness recovery coordinator,” continued James. “I’ll always champion mental health, personal recovery and peer support, all needs we equally deserve as individuals. The coronavirus has had a massive impact on our mental health, through loneliness, anxiety, grief and depression, and that makes the wellness recovery network all the more important to be accessible by everyone.”

The Wellness Recovery Network evolved from a coffee morning in December 2015 organised by Eileen Shevlin, a Service User, now Mental Health Service User Consultant, where a group of people with experience of living with mental illness decided to tell their stories to the public in the hope to bring more light to mental health awareness.

The next meeting will be held at the Bridge Community Centre in Lisburn on Friday December 3 from 10am-12noon.

For further information contact James on 07971329525, email [email protected], or search for Wellness Recovery Network on Facebook.