Ambassador hosts World Mental Health Day reception at embassy to launch project for Irish men in mid-life

On World Mental Health Day (10 October) the Irish  Ambassador Adrian O’Neill hosted a reception to launch the Comhar Project, which aims to support Irish men in mid-life facing poor mental health and elevated risk of suicide.

The reception was well attended by representatives from across the third sector.

The project sets up peer support groups for Irish men living in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington. These will also include training in elements of self-management, which gives participants the skills to maintain their mental health over time. It is a collaboration between two organisations: icap (Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy) who have over 25 years supporting the mental health of the Irish migrant community in Britain; and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF).

Catherine Hennessy from icap said: “The men we hope to work with are often socially isolated and are not engaging with services. We want to help them to build their capacity to manage their day-to-day lives and improve their wellbeing.” 

Ben Plimpton, Project Manager for Empowerment and Later Life at the Mental Health Foundation said: “The Mental Health Foundation has over a decade of experience delivering self-management and peer support with different populations. We know that this model can reduce isolation and loneliness, and builds up people’s skills to manage some of the difficulties life throws at us, including poor mental health.” 

The project name, which means ‘teamwork’ or ‘cooperation’ in Irish, was selected at a consultation event earlier this year with organisations working in the Irish Community.

The project will run 10 six-week courses over a 10-month period, with the aim of having 12 men participate in each course. Participants needing further support will also be offered individual counselling through icap.

The groups are now open to participants. Promotion of the project is ongoing through a variety of means, including networking with local organisations and statutory services, and via social media.

Participants will also be trained in facilitation and delivering the self-management content.  MHF’s experience of other peer support work shows that people are more likely to relate to trainers who have been through similar experiences to themselves.

The project will be formally evaluated, with the results used to inform other suicide-prevention work and potentially an expansion of the project throughout the country.

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For information about the courses, contact Ben Plimpton – [email protected] or Fran Edwards in the Mental Health Foundation Press Office – [email protected], tel 0207 803 1110. 

Notes to editors

The Mental Health Foundation is a research charity and its vision is for a world with good mental health for all.