Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch was in Portlaoise last week to launch the Let’s Connect exhibition in the Dunamaise Arts Centre.
The exhibition, which was curated by HSE Clinical Nurse Specialist Angela Delaney of the Laois Mental Health Services provided a unique opportunity to exhibit artwork by people from different backgrounds such as established national and international artists Brian Maguire, Geraldine O’Reilly, Éilis Crean and Niamh Boyce alongside artists using the Laois Offaly Mental Health Services.
Many familiy and friends gathered alongside the artists in the Dunamaise last Thursday at the official opening.
Speaking at the launch, Angela Delaney said the links between art and mental health were well documented.
“My wish for this exhibition is that you could take in the art, absorb it and be inspired,” she said.
Welcoming Minister Lynch to the exhibition, Dr. Katherine Brown, Consultant Psychiatrist in the Rehabilatation Service said this initiative is only one example of a range of multidisciplinary interventions that we are providing for service users on their recovery journey.
She commended Angela Delaney for her foresight and vision in developing this unique exhibition she said symbolised a true effort to tackle the stigma that is associated with mental health illness.
Director of the Dunamaise, Michelle de Forge, said the exhibition was a great example of what could be done in the Dunamaise for the whole community.
Minister Lynch spoke of two of her friends who have suffered with mental illness for most of their lives.
She said she didn’t want to speak about service users but people who needed help.
The Minister said we were making progress with mental health.
“Could you imagine being here five years ago? I don’t think so, and if we were there would be about 10 of us. So we are making progress. We are beginning to recognise that just like cardiac or renal our mental health is a part of what we are and who we are and from time to time it makes us do stupid things and from time to time it makes us too cautious, but we have to accept that that’s who we are.”
The exhibition will run in the Dunamaise until September 30 and will form part of the Laois Mental Health Awareness Week Laois Connects from September 28 to October 5.