A mental health education project which adopts an innovative approach to helping people improve their mental health and wellbeing has delivered courses to 1,400 people since it was set up two years ago.

The cross-Border Innovation Recovery Project, which is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, delivers a wide range of free, local educational courses which promote mental health well-being and recovery and is available to people in Fermanagh, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim and Sligo.

The courses are written and delivered by people with their own experience of mental health needs, alongside those with professional experience and knowledge.

The aim of the courses is to help participants tap into their own personal resilience and resourcefulness.

John Meehan, Project Chair of the Innovation Recovery Project commented: “Two years into the project, it is great to see the progress which has been made in helping people to recover from mental illness and take control of their own wellbeing through an empowering education model, rather than relying on traditional therapeutic interventions alone.

“It is clear that a more collaborative, innovative approach is required if we are to successfully address the increasing mental health issues in today’s society.

“This education model effectively enables people with their own experience of mental health conditions to shape mental health education for others, equipping the students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to maintain mental wellness and resilience.”

Over the past two years, some of the most popular courses have included: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), Understanding Depression, Mindfulness, and Learning to Like Yourself. There are around 100 courses available in total, with around 80 per cent of the students attending to date being female.

Cathy McCloskey, Project Manager of the Innovation Recovery Project added: “This is very much an ongoing process, with those who provide services and those who have lived experience of mental health needs and their families coming together to co-produce and co-deliver training and support programmes.

“It is a challenge to encourage men to come out and sign up to courses delivered in classrooms, however we are currently exploring more hands-on, practical courses which may appeal more to men,” she explained before concluding.

“The cross-Border aspect to this project has helped us widen access and participation by extending the provision of courses to outlying and rural areas.

It has also created a cross-border network of support and expertise amongst the Recovery teams in each area. This is really helping us reach more people and use resources more effectively.”

Further information about the Innovation Recovery Project can be found at www.cawt.com/go/irecovery and course information is available on Facebook and Twitter @InnovationRecov.