Helping to bring mental health issues out into the open – The Irish Times

“It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter,” sang George Harrison, and while Here Comes the Sun may not be on the setlist for the inaugural Joy in the Park event, the sentiment is very present, encouraging. anyone with mental health issues. health issues to go out and engage with service providers.

The driving force behind the event, which kicks off at Fitzgerald’s Park in Cork at midday on Sunday July 17, is Linda Plover, who explains that the motivation for the event came from a family tragedy: the loss of a member of the Joy Sylvie family in 2021 at only 33 years old.

“In June of last year, my family lost someone very special and dear to us,” says Plover. “Her name was Joy, and she was truly everything her name stands for – everyone who met her fell in love with her warmth, kindness and sense of fun. She loved music and the arts , writing poetry and short stories.

“I decided to organize an event that would capture Joy’s sense of fun and love for music and the arts while bringing the community together and raising awareness about mental health. This event is about celebrating life and take care of each other.

“Joy in the Park is not a memorial to Joy – rather it is her legacy. It is about the idea that we can all find our own joy together and much of what has been programmed reflects a lot Joy’s personality because she had very eclectic musical tastes, and my intention was to capture that.

Among the artists lined up to perform at the festival are indie legend Jerry Fish, innovative world music band Kila and Cork ska favorites Pontious Pilate & The Naildrivers, while the Cork Circus Factory and Cork Puppetry Company will be sure to miss no fun with the kids.

“We’ll also have an Acoustic Stage with an incredible lineup of artists, with John Spillane headlining, while we’ll also have the Joy Sylvie Spoken Word Stage featuring incredible poets, writers and hip-hop and music artists. spoken word, including Cork. the famous writer Cónal Creedon.

Plover explains that alongside entertainment, Joy in the Park will balance a sense of fun and celebration with connection, understanding and awareness of mental health through multiple service providers in the field of mental health and mental health. welfare.

Groups that will have stalls at the festival include Cork Kerry Community Healthcare HSE Health Action Zone teams, and groups such as Shine My Mind, Grow, Cork Counseling Services and Jigsaw, as well as Pieta, The Samaritans , Shine a Light and Conscious.

Joy in the Park is supported by the HSE through its Connecting for Life program as part of the HSE Mental Health Suicide Prevention Strategy; Martin Ryan from Cork Kerry Community Healthcare says the HSE is happy to be involved in the initiative.

“We’re thrilled to be involved — it’s bright and joyful and it’s great to see all the organizations coming together. Often we tend to work on our own tunes, but here we can catch up on what we all do and how we connect with others.

Cork City Council’s Arts Office, Cork County Council’s Local Community Development Committee, Cork City Council’s Sports, Leisure and Parks Department and the IMRO Sponsorship Scheme also contribute financial support to the festival.

The festival is held in partnership with the Cork Mental Health Foundation and its CEO, Brendan McCarthy, says the Covid pandemic has proven to be a real challenge for people with mental health issues and the various service providers who support them .

“Covid has had a huge impact on people from a social perspective in that people can’t go out to meet people and just to be able to talk and chat. We are a very sociable people and not having that outlet had a big effect,” he says.

“The very severe lockdown we had in 2020 had some positive effects in that it made us focus and pay attention to our neighbours, but there was also a negative impact in that people didn’t just couldn’t go out and socialize and do normal things, so the isolation had a negative impact on a lot of people.

McCarthy says her organization, which provides housing for more than 100 people and works with another 200 people through the Next Step program, has been affected by the lockdown in that people have lost a few years on their journey to life. engagement with others and returning to the community. .

“We try to get people to get out there and get involved, and Joy in the Park has a part to play in that, encouraging people to get out there and see what services are available. And if people need help, many services will be there the same day to show what they are doing.

The inspiration for Joy in the Park in many ways comes from the late John McCarthy, who founded Mad Pride in the mid-2000s in an attempt to dispel common misconceptions about mental illness. He held a series of Pride in the Park festivals at Fitzgerald Park in 2008 and 2009.

McCarthy described Pride in the Park events as “a celebration of the normalcy of madness,” and Joy in the Park organizers also see the event as playing a role in destigmatizing mental health issues so they can be part of the mainstream conversation.

Brendan McCarthy explains, “I think we are moving as a society towards destigmatizing mental health issues. Certainly talking to young people, they talk a lot about it and would know friends who are struggling with mental health issues, so we are moving in the right direction.

“Unfortunately there’s always a stigma around more serious mental health issues and that’s something we all have to work on as well, and I would say something like Joy in the Park gives people an opportunity to meet the people involved. in face-to-face services.

“So they can talk to them, which they haven’t been able to do for two years, and they can do it outside the office or the listening centre. The whole idea is to break down the barriers of anxiety to walk through the door and encounter the services.

“People can just chat with service providers, and they’re all doing a lot of activities, they’re not specifically mental health-based. It can be mindfulness or art or something like that – it doesn’t have to be “oh, I need help and I need to talk to you now”.

Traditionally, discussing mental health issues has been a challenge for young men, McCarthy says, but seeing role models like Bressie openly discussing their mental health issues has helped. But it’s important that the movement continues so that people feel more comfortable discussing their mental wellbeing.

“Tackling mental health issues has probably posed a greater challenge for young men – we as men are still much more vulnerable to this because we don’t want to talk about it and we were brought up with it. idea that we have to be strong and not need help,” he says.

“But the pressures are everywhere – they are also increasing on young women with social media and all that. That’s why it’s important that we continue to push for this to become mainstream discourse, and Joy in the Park will hopefully help with that.

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