"Very good and informative EOLAS Program & some suggestions"

About: Leitrim Adult Community Mental Health Services

(as a service user),


I recently attended the EOLAS program in Sligo which I found very good and informative, it was a great chance to meet other people who were in similar circumstances and gain an insight into how their conditions affected them and what ways they managed their symptoms.  It was also an opportunity to meet and listen to mental health professionals explain how they approach helping or treating people with Bipolar, Schizophrenia or Psychosis related illnesses.  The program was very well presented by all the staff and facilitators, they were very open to listening to all views and willing to provide advice or sourced further information when asked.  I believe that all the participants gained help and advice from each others stories.  I would encourage any person who has the specific conditions that apply to attend the course, they will find it very helpful & informative, there is also a separate course for family members who may wish to learn about their loved ones illness.

As a attendee I would like to make a few suggestions that may help develop the course further, at present the course layout covers all 3 conditions but I feel as a person with Bipolar 2, that some more in-depth information on the bipolar spectrum needs to be included, each sub condition in the spectrum has their own features that effects each person in different ways and such information would help the person gain a greater understanding of their specific condition and this knowledge would help them manage it better.  I would also recommend information about the types of medication used to treat this condition include the pros and cons of their potential side-effects this will help people know how its treated and what can occur with medication.  I make this suggestion because people who may have bipolar or their loved ones may mistakenly believe due to lack of adequate knowledge of the illness that psychosis and bipolar go hand in hand which is not always the case.

On a final note I suggest that the book used for the course be revised to include more info on bipolar as stated above, I also feel that the book is a bit heavy on technical details and wording, perhaps using information in plain English and use terms and information that were less technical would help all people to enjoy the course more. The book at 125 pages long it may be very heavy reading for people who would not be used to reading such detailed levels of information and may be a bit off putting.  I also feel that the book format is awkward to use as it is hard to keep open especially if laid on a table, perhaps developing the sections in handouts that could be handed out each week might be more useful and easier to read.  It would also reduce the likelihood of wastage and cost of printing as people would likely only take the sections that would apply to them.

The above comments are only suggestions and not any way criticism and are from a person who attended and enjoyed the course and are meant to help the HSE further develop the course.  

As previously stated I would strongly encourage anyone who has Bipolar, Schizophrenia or Psychosis related conditions or their loved ones who want to learn more about the illnesses to attend this course, it's very good, informative and gives them a chance to meet and learn from others who are in the same circumstances.  The tea/coffee and very nice biscuits/buns were an added bonus and were greatly appreciated and enjoyed by all who attended the course.


Kindest regards,

A Eolas attendee.     


Response from Joanne O'Halloran, Clinical Psychologist, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service, HSE

picture of Joanne O'Halloran

Dear Service User,

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience attending the EOLAS program in Sligo. Your experience and recommendations about how the program could be improved is certainly welcomed. I have shared your story with our local EOLAS representative and know she will give consideration to it and respond to you via Care Opinion.

I wish you well in your continued recovery.

Kind wishes,


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Response from Regina McNamee, Eolas Coordinator/Social Worker, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services We have made a change

Dear Eolas Attendee,
Thank you for taking the time to give us such informative feedback on the Eolas 8 Week Programme that you attended in the Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services. I am glad you found the programme of benefit and support to you in your recovery and I sincerely appreciate the positive and constructive feedback in helping us to address the ongoing needs of Service Users.

The Eolas Programme is a Clinician & Service User led group which places equal emphasis on the importance of the learning from the clinician and the facilitator with the lived experiences. The 8 weeks programmes are aimed at Service Users who have a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Psychosis related illnesses. As you have kindly mentioned there is a separate parallel 8 week programme for Family Members/Close Friends affected by their loved ones illness. Again this programme is co-delivered with a family member with lived experiences.

To date in the Sligo/Leitrim/South Donegal/West Cavan Mental Health Services we have successfully delivered 11 programmes. These programmes are generally available to attend in the Spring and the Autumn. In relation to your feedback specifically about the extent of the information covered re:Bipolar, I will ensure that going forward for the Autumn that locally the facilitators are mindful of including more discussion on Bipolar.

I have also discussed and forwarded the feedback to the National Coordinator Orla, who intends to inform the National Steering Group Committee (Chairperson Dr. Gibbons, Consultant Psychiatrist). As part of the 8 week programme we have a guest speaker Michelle (Mental Health Pharmacist). I will request that more information re: Pros & Cons/Side Effects of medications is included in the presentations.

In relation to the your feedback on the handbooks, unfortunately the books have been recently revised so it may not be possible to restructure/condense the information. However I am due to attend a National Coordinators meeting in August and I will feedback directly regarding your suggestions for more condensed chapters with group members having the option of taking the information of most relevance to their conditions. Thank you again for taking the time to give us such informative feedback regarding the programme. If you know of anyone who would like more information they can contact a member of their Local Community Mental Health Team for a referral or Regina, Local Eolas Coordinator 086-4634907.

There is also a very informative website: eolasproject.ie,

If you would like to speak to me directly about this response please feel free to make contact: 086-4634907,

Kind Regards, Regina McNamee (Local Eolas Coordinator/Mental Health Social Worker HSE)

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Response from Joanne O'Halloran, Clinical Psychologist, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service, HSE

picture of Joanne O'Halloran

Hi Regina,

Thanks for your reply to the experiences and suggestions of the service user shared here and giving it such consideration which I believe will result in positive changes to how Eolas is delivered locally (and may extend at a national level).

This highlights the benefits of Care Opinion as a platform for our service to hear about areas we can improve on and where possible to make positive changes based on the stories and experiences shared by those who avail of our local mental health services.

Keep up the great work with Eolas.


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Update posted by A service user (a service user)

Hi Regina, l would like to take the opportunity to thank you for taking the time to consider my suggestions, as I said in my original comments the course is very good and I strongly recommend it to any person who may have the conditions to attend one if they can. Again many thanks to yourself and Joanne for your good work in promoting and facilitating such a useful program.

Kindest regards,

An Eolas attendee.