Health Briefing

 

A round-up of other health news in brief

St Pat's expand mental health services to Cork

ONE OF THE country’s major psychiatric hospitals has opened its first regional mental health centre in Cork with plans to open another clinic in Galway later this year.

The Dean Clinics are being established as part of a five-year strategy by St Patrick’s University Hospital, Dublin, to expand its services around the country, in response to the demand for community- based mental health facilities. The plan is to open 10 clinics in total and, to date, four clinics have been established by the not-for-profit private hospital in the Dublin area since April 2008.

The first regional clinic is now up and running in Cork city at Citygate, Mahon. Programme manager of the Dean Clinics, Evelyn McCarthy, said: “We had identified in recent times that our clients would like to access mental health services in their own local city or area instead of having to travel up to the outpatients clinic in Dublin.”

Ms McCarthy said the the approach of the Dean Clinics is to link the mental health services they provide with the local GPs. Clients are referred to the clinics for specialist care by their GPs and are discharged back to the GPs after treatment. “The Dean Clinic in Cork is running three days a week, but this service will be expanded as demand increases, and we also intend to expand disciplines to include social work, occupational therapy and practice nursing,” she said.

Services provided at the new clinic include multidisciplinary assessment, treatment and follow-up, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), addiction counselling and psychotherapy. - MICHELLE MCDONAGH

Students encouraged to 'lose the blues' at UCC

A NEW WEBSITE, “Lose the Blues”, has been launched at University College Cork (UCC) aimed at students experiencing depressive symptoms. The website is designed specifically for 18-24 year olds, who may be experiencing low moods.

As well as providing information on depression and links to national and international support services, the site’s unique feature is its online forum which will allow users to share their experience and offer peer support to each other within a safe environment.

The website was developed by Aine Horgan, a PhD student and psychiatric nursing lecturer at UCC’s School of Nursing and Midwifery. It is currently part of a research study being undertaken at UCC by Ms Horgan and supported by Dr John Sweeney and Prof Geraldine McCarthy in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. The aim of the research is to see if the website can help improve one’s mood.

Ms Horgan explained: “With depression now the most common mental health problem worldwide, it was agreed that this forum offered the best means of communication for students who may be experiencing low mood to interact with each other.”

She suggests that the incidence of depression and related problems among young people is very high; however, most are reluctant to seek professional help due to the stigma that remains associated with mental health problems.

Ms Horgan believes it is time that mental health interventions are provided for young people through means that are accessible and usable. The website is at www.losetheblues.ie - OLIVIA KELLEHER

Stem cell group to launch this week

TACKLING BOGUS stem cell scams on offer to Irish patients over the internet will be the first priority of the Irish Stem Cell Foundation, due to launch on Friday. The aim of the not-for-profit organisation is to offer education on stem cells, their biology and the research and therapies using them. The foundation, which includes doctors, scientists, patient advocates, educators and bioethicists, aims to promote understanding of stem cells via outreach programmes. See www.irishstemcellfoundation.org