‘Wellness bus’ becomes vehicle for conversation about positive mental health

A mobile mental health service operates in west Cork as part of an initiative to help people recover outside traditional mental-health services

Staff on the wellness bus provide advice on services available across the community that promote physical, mental and social wellbeing. Photograph: Cumasú

Staff on the wellness bus provide advice on services available across the community that promote physical, mental and social wellbeing. Photograph: Cumasú

Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 01:00

Is it a bus? It is truck? Nope, it’s a mobile mental health service. A bright blue bus rolls through the towns and villages of west Cork as part of an initiative to help people recover outside traditional mental-health services.

The wellness bus – known as Cumasú, the Irish for “empower” – can be spotted across the region at festivals, markets or simply because a community has asked for it to visit.

Michael Bambrick, director of nursing with HSE South’s west Cork mental health services, says the bus also brings people together by using the bus as a space for creative and artistic purposes.

“The wellness bus is about promoting social inclusion by utilising the bus as a space for creative and novel initiatives,” he said. “The activities and events are varied with gardening groups, men’s shed, art workshops, yoga classes, music groups, stress-management workshops, carer’s support groups, parenting programmes, trialogue’s and wellness movie nights.”

Staff on the bus provide advice on services available across the community that promote physical, mental and social wellbeing.

“We’ll never tackle the area of mental health unless we all take responsibility for it,” says Pat Murphy of the National Learning Network in west Cork. “That’s where the idea of a community wellness programme came..”

Cumasú is an initiative undertaken by the West Cork Mental Health Services, the National Learning Network, RehabCare, and the West Cork Development Partnership .