"My experience at Solas Falcarragh"

About: Donegal Mental Health Services Solas Donegal

(as a service user),

I was referred to Solas by my CBT therapist in my mental health team. I was not sure what to expect from Solas. I was unaware of the service and had no family or friends who used the service before.

At the time I first went to Solas I was in a very bad place mentally. I was was taking anti-depression and antipsychotic tablets and been treated for various different mental disorders. On the first morning when I arrived in Falcarragh I was extremely anxious and very nervous however was met by the Solas coordinator and made feel welcome, she went on to explain what the Solas programme was about and what the aims of the programme were without overloading me with information, which at the time I was not able to cope with.

My first few weeks at Solas were difficult as my physical and mental health were not great, however I was made to feel welcome by every one staff and peers alike and over time made friendships which I still have today. At Solas we walk everyday in some of the most beautiful spots Donegal has to offer and I count my self lucky to have been part of programme that truly kick started the journey of my recovery. Over time with the help of the staff and peers I picked up tips or tools that I used myself to sustain my own mental health challenges.

Walking, talking, listening is something that Solas truly believes in and on every occasion we did that in groups outside in warm, cold, dry, wet weather along costal routes, beaches, forests, even by Donegal's largest mountain Errigal. There is something very peaceful and powerful and rewarding about sharing and listening to personal stories of distress and recovery outdoors facing the elements. At the end of every week at Solas we did what we called a diary, where the peers shared different things about how the past week was or what maybe the next week holds.

The questions could be different every week. What I liked about this was the fact it was confidential, it was a safe place to talk about how you're feeling with people you have come to trust and everybody had a chance to talk.

I have some very pleasant memories walking with the Solas gang but also had some hard times as well. A memory I will never forget is when I did manage to make it to Solas even tho I was not feeling great and not in the mood for talking. And on the walk I walked with a member of staff and I didn't talk I said I wasn't feeling good, but they didn't leave my side they walked with me the whole way and when we stopped they just said well done. And that's all I needed. The fact I wasn't alone and someone was there with me when I thought no one was was something I will never forget.

I'm sad my time at Solas has ended as a peer, however I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the peers past and present on the programme and especially the staff who have helped me to realise the better parts of myself and continue to do so. If anyone is in ongoing mental distress I would highly recommend the Solas programme where you can meet people who have been there, and be guided by a great team who go above and beyond and have a wealth of knowledge to share.

Go raibh maith agat

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Response from Senior Forensic Clinical Psychologist, Psychological Services, Donegal Mental Health Services 2 years ago
Submitted on 09/12/2021 at 12:33
Published on Care Opinion at 12:48

I am reassured by ctij's personal story - As a clinician I have always found SOLAS to be an excellent service as those I have referred have spoken highly about it-I would recommend its use more often - to staff and peers there keep up the good work and keep doing what you are doing - and to ctij hope you continue on in life with all that you have learnt through your experiences and your persistent effort

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Response from Christina Greene, Programme Coordinator, Solas, Donegal, Donegal Mental Health Services 2 years ago
Christina Greene
Programme Coordinator, Solas, Donegal,
Donegal Mental Health Services
Submitted on 14/12/2021 at 13:07
Published on Care Opinion at 13:08

picture of Christina Greene

Thank you ctjj for taking the time to write such detailed reflection on your time at Solas, these words will no doubt be very encouraging to anyone who may be considering attending the programme.

You have acknowledged some of the most important values of our programme - the power of peers and that the reflective diary session feels safe. Thank you for your honesty about the good days as well as the bad - these are the times that attending the programme is most important and the team can meet these struggles with compassion while we face the elements shoulder to shoulder.

Wishing you every continued success on your recovery journey,

Christina Greene,

Programme coordinator Solas Donegal

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