Donegal Wellness Café Nominated in two categories for the Irish Healthcare Centre Awards 2023

19 May 2023

The Donegal Wellness Café has been nominated in two categories for the Irish Healthcare Centre Awards 2023; Healthcare Initiative Mental Health Care & Healthcare Initiative Patient Education/Lifestyle Project. 

This is a tremendous achievement for people with lived experience who initially completed the EOLAS education and information programme followed by the ‘Write to Recovery’ programme in 2019.

This process was the foundation for the development of the Wellness Cafes in Donegal. There are currently 15 cafes established in Donegal with the latest addition in the Atlantic Technological University Letterkenny Donegal where the students are verbalising the benefits of being involved.

The Wellness Café initiative was developed in Donegal by people with lived experience of Mental Health illness and clinicians working in the service.

This engagement was born because service users of mental health services needed not to be seen as patients, but individuals with knowledge ability, creativity, rights and ownership over their own recovery.

The idea was to create a space in the local community for people with lived experience to meet up socially in a local café with staff from the services to discover themselves, find out what they need to know, and develop quality in their recovery journey. Everyone goes to the Café for themselves and the feedback has been phenomenal. It is real empowerment in action. People have discovered themselves, found new ways of engagement, learned from others, developed friendships and confidence to try out new ways of being. There is no them and us only we. No stigma and people have found their sense of purpose and identity.

The Wellness Café model has grown from one initially in 2019 to 15 across Donegal which is a reflection of the need and relevance of having one in your local community. This model supports people in their recovery journey and promotes Wellness. When organised, people with lived experience have so much to offer and gain from engagement with each other and with clinicians in their local communities. Success for this initiative will empower those who have given time and commitment to its development and encourage others to mobilise their communities and services to follow suit. 

Dr John McCardle, HSE Area Director of Nursing in Donegal said “I would like to extend congratulations on behalf of the Donegal Mental Health Service to all those who have supported and participated in this initiative.”

Last updated on: 19 / 05 / 2023