"The biggest challenge the services currently face is that many mental health professionals are not recovery focused."

Mental health support service provider Laura Louise Condell on the barriers to progress for mental health care in Ireland

1st November, 2017

What's your name?

Laura Louise Condell

What position do you hold?

I am both a mental health service user and a support service provider. I’ve been treated for mental health difficulties for over 15 years. I am a member of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland REFOCUS (Recovery Experience Forum of Carers and Users of Services) Committee. I’m the Coordinator of Dublin Lesbian Line, a female-run support service for LGBTQ people and I created and organise an annual mental health day, the Good Mood Festival.

What are your day to day responsibilities?

No two days are ever the same! Coordinating the helpline involves everything from general admin, to providing individual or group support, to getting to be creative and come up with new ideas and events to help and engage the community. I also consider looking after my mental health an everyday responsibility! I try to maintain the things that help me to look after myself, and be aware enough to spot warning signs when I am starting not to do well.

What is your professional background?

I describe my profession as working in mental health, which sounds a bit vague but that’s because it encompasses a lot of different roles! I have an honours degree in Sociology and Social Policy which helps me to have a broader perspective when it comes to the work I do. My professional mental health background stemmed from a personal interest. I became a See Change Ambassador in 2012 and from there became an advocate to reduce stigma around mental health. In 2011 I trained as a helpline volunteer, and from there became a trainer and mentor. I became a local and national board member for the network of helplines we are a part of, and became coordinator of DLL in 2014. I am a qualified facilitator and trainer. Ireland has changed a lot in the last few years and I love learning and adapting my work to go with it.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I spend a lot of time at home! I love food and cooking, and take pleasure in learning about it. At the moment I’m trying to learn about the gut and fermenting. There are various jars and concoctions all around the kitchen!

Tell us something very few people know about you?

I love colour, which is no secret, but one of my favourite ways to enjoy colour is through makeup. I have an ever growing makeup collection. It relaxes me so much.

You are speaking at the 2017 Mental Health Summit. What are you speaking about?

I am representing the REFOCUS Committee and the voice of those who use the services and their family members/carers on a panel discussion which is looking at whether mental healthcare in Ireland is realistically moving forward, and what the barriers to progress might be.

What major challenges do you see for mental health services in Ireland?

Most people immediately think of finances when they think of challenges to health services. In my opinion the biggest challenge the services currently face is that many mental health professionals are not recovery focused. This needs to change in order for mental health services to successfully support people to recover.

Where would you like to see our mental health service in 10 years time?

I would love for every person to be able to access appropriate and timely support, to not have to spend months, or even years on waiting lists to end up in a service that cannot or will not provide them with what they need. I would like all service providers to believe firmly in each person's capacity for recovery, whatever that may mean to each individual, and for them to work with each person to help them to achieve this.

Laura Louise Condell is appearing at The 2nd National Mental Health Summit. The agenda and further details for this important national event, at the AVIVA Stadium on November 9th, is available at Mentalhealthsummit.ie.

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