Connecting for Life - Mid West

Connecting for Life, Ireland's National Strategy to Reduce Suicide 2015-2020 sets out a vision where fewer lives are lost through suicide, and where communities and individuals are empowered to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The Implementation Plan for Connecting for Life Mid West 2023-2024 sets out specific local actions to deliver the seven goals of the National Strategy, within the context of HSE Mid West Community Healthcare area (Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary).

Suicide prevention and awareness training

A wide range of free suicide prevention and awareness training programmes is available across HSE Mid West Community Healthcare area (Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary).

Connecting for Life Mid West Downloads

Connecting with Training

Connecting with Training was developed on the premise that protecting and promoting mental health is everyone’s responsibility and an integral part of who we are. Our mental health determines and influences every aspect of our lives, how we view ourselves, our relationships, how we work, live and play. The content includes a variety of evidence based or evidence informed workshops and courses from a wide range of providers from statutory, community and voluntary sectors across Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. The majority of the courses included are free or low cost.

Implementation Group Updates 

To date in 2020, the CfL MW Implementation Group have held two meetings. One in person in March in advance of restrictions and the second in July over an online platform through Webex which worked well. Like all elements of society, adaptations were made and services were delivered in innovative and unique ways. Through the collaborative efforts of the CfL MW IG members, there were weekly and then biweekly updates of how services were operational in the Mid West made available on this website. Communication has been key in relation to this between various stakeholders and we have also learned how to improve information sharing along the way. These meetings have had two main themes running through them – reflection on work to date and next steps for beyond the current action plan which is at 73% completion at the end of Q1 2020. Actions and ways of working will continue to be reviewed for the rest of the year to ensure we have a strong foundation for the next stage of Connecting for Life.

Mid West CfL Implementation Group

Attendees at the Connecting for Life Mid West Implementation Group meeting July 2020 online due to Covid 19.

In 2019, we held four Implementation Group meetings. The outcomes of these meetings resulted in:

Three Connecting for Life Mid West Suicide Prevention Action Plan Roadshows were held in Newcastlewest, Kilrush and Nenagh. They were organised to promote the work of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan and the partner organisations in each area. The aims of the events were that attendees would:

  • Have an understanding of how CfL MW applies to communities re local area/what’s applicable to them
  • Have an awareness of how to connect with services in their area
  • Learn about connecting with themselves/self-care skills.

A continued discussion from the Conference last year around Trauma Informed Practice. CfL MW partners ADAPT and Novas presented to the Implementation about how they have been using this approach in their work. The sharing of information has promoted further discussion amongst other partners who will bring the information back to their organisations.

An important discussion re the number of suspected suicides in the Mid West in the latter part of 2019 and how communities could be and were being supported. Over 60 tailored responses from our office have been provided to individuals, families at risk of or bereaved by suicide.

Two Media Briefing events were held in relation to Suicide Prevention Media Guidelines for media outlets across the Mid West.

The Connecting for Life: Connecting with Training resource was launched which is the product of the MW Mental Health Promotion Subgroup. It is a mental health promotion training resource which you can access on Health Promotion and Improvement was the Lead Agency of the Connecting for Life Mental Health Promotion Subgroup Mid West (CfL MW). The content includes a variety of evidence based or evidence informed workshops and courses from a wide range of providers from statutory, community and voluntary sectors across Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. The majority of the courses included are free or low cost.

The Implementation Group for Connecting for Life Mid West met on the 22nd of March 2018. In order to continue to reflect the entire Mid West, the meeting was hosted by the Clare County Council in their premises in Ennis. In keeping with this, the next meeting will take place in the Tipperary County Council in Nenagh. The meeting was very well attended and provided very positive discussion around areas directly related to mental health and suicide prevention. It was the first time that the Subgroups feedback to the wider Implementation Group. This meeting continues to be a source of information re research and upcoming events for the various members and an opportunity for collaboration.

CfL MW IG Meeting

Attendees at the Connecting for Life Mid West Implementation Group meeting in March, hosted by Clare County Council.

The Implementation Group for Connecting for Life Mid West met on the 7th of December 2017. A progress report was distributed to the members in relation to the actions to date. Significant progress has been made on an action that required support through collaboration with another partner organisation. Mark Sparling led the inaugural discussion on the Connecting for Life Mid West conference which will take place at the end of 2018, the midway point of the plan. More to follow! We launched our reporting template which will be used until the end of 2020 which will result in 13 quarterly reports in the lifetime of our action plan. Information re local and national events/campaigns was also shared. Attendance remained strong and great to see new members as well. There was an enthusiastic response to the invitation of members to join the two subgroups – Communications Subgroup and Project Management. We are all looking forward to continued working together in 2018. Connecting for Life Mid West Implementation Group is on the move and we will be having our first meeting in 2018 in Ennis and our second will be in Nenagh.

The Implementation Group for Connecting for Life Mid West met on the 21st September 2017. It was decided to have two subgroups (Project Management Subgroup and Communication/Partnership Subgroup) that would support the Implementation Group and discussions were held re the different roles each subgroup would fulfil. The Terms of Reference were reviewed and agreed. The Implementation Group will meet again on the 7th December 2017.

Social Farming video 

Limerick Mental Health Week launch 

Limerick Mental Health Week launch (2)

Limerick Mental Health Week launch (1)

Limerick Mental Health Week launch (3)

Connecting for Life Mid West roadshow 

CfL Midwest roadshow (2)

CfL Midwest roadshow (3)

CfL Midwest roadshow (1)

CfL Midwest roadshow (4)

CfL Midwest roadshow (5)

Connecting for Life Mid West Conference

Are we connected to prevent suicide?

The Connecting for Life Mid West Conference held at Thomond Park (Thursday, November 29th) acknowledged the mid way point of the Connecting for Life Mid West: Action Plan for Suicide Prevention 2017-2020, by hosting an event with the theme of Are We Connected?

The aim of the conference was to take a sounding of the level of connectedness across the Mid West to date and to renew our commitment and passion for our work to reduce suicide and self-harm in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary for the next two years and beyond.

The seed, from which this conference grew, was planted two weeks after the launch of Connecting for Life Mid West action plan by Bernard Gloster, Chief Officer, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare. With the support of Mark Sparling, Head of Service for Mental Health, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare and the Mid West Office for Suicide Prevention, steps were taken to make the conference a reality. We are very fortunate to have a vibrant Connecting for Life Mid West Implementation Group, made up of 50 members who contributed to the organisation of the conference. They delivered a fantastic event through the CfL Mid West Communications and Partnership Subgroup, under the stewardship of the subgroup chair Darina Greene from Clare Local Development Company.

CfL Midwest conference outside

L to R: Mike Aherne (HSE), Jessica Curtis (Paul Partnership), Mick Collins (HSE), Edel Griffin (HSE), Marie O’Flynn (HSE), Darina Greene (Chair - Clare Local Development Company), Mary Kennedy (HSE), Gerard Linnane (Jigsaw), Karen Fennessy (Clare County Council) and John McElhinney (Mental Health Ireland). Absent: Majella Cosgrove (Life Links Matter), Crisanta Sheehy (HSE) and Ciara Demspey (HSE). 

218 people gathered in Limerick for a full day conference which opened with a warm welcome and opening address by Chief Officer Bernard Gloster, HSE Mid West Community Health Care. All conference attendees were invited to remain connected throughout the day by using an audience interaction tool Slido.

John Meehan, Head of the National Office for Suicide Preventionpresented an update of national achievements and local updates were delivered by Mark Sparling (Lead for Mental Health Services, HSE MW and Mary Kennedy, Resource Office for Suicide Prevention.

The keynote address from Dr. Sharon Lambert (UCC), focused on Trauma Informed Care and provided us with interesting insights as to "whose problem it is anyway"?

Sharon later undertook one of the six workshop presentations and as a panel member in the afternoon.

The six interactive workshops were linked to the goals of Connecting for life Mid West and included:

  •  Connecting with Our Positive Selves (Mental Health Ireland)
  •  The WRAP Connection (PAUL Partnership)
  •  Connecting with Services and Supports in the Mid West (Dr. Sharon Lambert)
  •  Connected, the Youth Voice: the power of youth participation (Jigsaw Limerick)
  •  The Story Exchange: New ways to connect (Narrative 4)
  •  Connecting with Hope: Recovery Education, Engagement & Empowerment (ARIES and HSE Mental Health Engagement).

All conference participants were able to attend two of the six workshops. 

CfL Midwest conference 2

L to R: Mike Aherne (MC - HSE), Aoife Boland (HSE), Eileen Cunningham (HSE), Bernadine Carroll (Narrative 4), Dr. Sharon Lambert (UCC), John McElhinney (Mental Health Ireland), Jessica Curtis (Paul Partnership), Cian Aherne (Jigsaw) and Gerard Linnane (MC - Jigsaw).

Throughout the day there were 31 conference Ambassadors drawn from the Connecting for Life Mid West Partners; these Ambassadors were an integral part of day as they connected with the all of the participants, helped with registration, supported participants to find their workshops and generally helped everyone to get the most out of the conference.

After lunch and a chance to connect with each other, many of us took the opportunity to visit the Thomond Park Museum. Refuelled and refreshed, we returned to continue our conversation with a lively panel discussion based on the outputs of the workshops and a fantastic response throughout the day via Slido, there were plenty of questions and comments from conference participants.

Finally, our conference concluded with a closing address from Mark Sparling, a snapshot of the graphic recording of the day by Esther Blodau, a video montage of the conference and a farewell from our Ambassadors.

Overall, the connecting that has taken place through the development of, and since the implementation of the Connecting for Life Mid West Suicide Prevention Action Plan was evident. New connections were made on the day and we continue to explore what new relationships can be established within and between organisations to achieve the objectives of reducing the rates of suicide and self-harm in the Mid West. 

The Launch of Connecting for Life Mid West

Connecting for Life Mid West Launch_03

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee TD launched Connecting for Life Mid West 2017-2020 at the Millennium Theatre Limerick Institute of Technology on 24th April 2017. The process of developing Connecting for Life Mid West in December 2015, was in response to the national strategy, Connecting for Life.

A Suicide Prevention Steering Group was set up and chaired by the HSE, with representation from over forty key services, sectors and communities within the Mid West Community Healthcare area. As part of this, an Engagement Working Group was set up. This group reviewed the seven Connecting for Life goals, agreed consultation methodologies, and identified a consultation sample and a rollout mechanism that included a public survey, a service providers’ survey, postcards and focus groups.

The resulting ‘Connecting for Life: Tell us what you think’ public engagement took place during May 2016 and included:

  • 1500 people living in the area who completed the Public Survey
  • 23 organisations completed the organisational survey
  • 59 focus groups with priority groups as identified through the national strategy involving 394 participants.
  • 103 postcards were completed by the public and returned.

An Information and Research Working Group (IRWG) was also set up from the Steering Group. This group compiled a Mid West demographic and suicide information profile from four geographical Suicide Prevention Profiles prepared by HSE Public Health, CSO data and a meeting with a local Coroner. The IRWG considered the findings of Suicide Prevention an Evidence Review and also carried out a literature review of published systematic reviews on interventions which were aimed at prevention of suicide and self-harm.

Connecting for Life Mid West Launch_01.JPG

Speaking at the event, Minister McEntee highlighted the importance of local connections working together for the wider benefit of the community, stating;

“This document is an excellent example of the benefits that we can reap when all of those who will be impacted by a plan are involved in the creation of it. This local implementation action plan had input from a wide ranging group of people and representatives from the statutory and non-statutory, community and voluntary organisations working in the area of suicide prevention in the Mid West, along with submissions from the general public. I am happy to say that the excellent work of all of those involved has resulted in a clear and tailored plan for the reduction of suicide for the Mid West.”

Commenting on the engagement process, steering group member Chief Superintendent John Kerin of the Clare Garda Division said;

“In the course of our work as Gardai we witness far too often the tragedy and pain for families when we attend at a scene where someone has seriously self harmed or completed suicide. Every day we encounter vulnerable people in the course of our work. Being part of Connecting for Life has not only produced a plan but has also through the process created new inter agency relationships. It is the work resulting from those relationships that we hope will help us tackle this all too often tragic occurrence.”

Connecting for Life Mid West Launch_02.jpg

Speaking after the launch Mid West Community Healthcare, Chief Officer Bernard Gloster said;

“The way in which this plan has been produced is testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment of many people. On behalf of the HSE I thank them all. Preventing suicide and reducing self harm is not by any means simply a health challenge. It is one for all of society and our process to date has attempted to reflect that. If this plan is to be effective then our commitment today has to be sustained up to 2020. That is not a choice but a necessity.”

For more information on the action plan and its implementation in the Mid West (Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary) contact:

Michael Collins, Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention, Mid West Community Healthcare (Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary) or 061 461454/061 461320

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