Heads Up on how to improve mental wellbeing
Ray Clinton has participated in a series of free community-based programmes

Heads Up on how to improve mental wellbeing

SINCE the start of the year, Ray Clinton has improved his physical and mental wellbeing through a series of free, community-based programmes – and is now focused on a training qualification.

Originally from Ballymun, Ray lives in Clondalkin and for a number of years was linked in with Tallaght Addiction Support Project (TASP), where he received support for alcohol issues.

When finishing up with TASP, Ray was unsure of what direction to go in.

However, a conversation with Samantha Griffen, Fettercairn Health Project co-ordinator, set Ray off on a path that would nine-months later see the 55-year-old enjoying improved health and preparing for a QQI training course.

“I came off TASP and was wondering how I’d keep myself busy, keep from thinking negative thoughts,” Ray told The Echo.

“Samantha suggested the Heads Up men’s group and I thought, I’ll jump on the course, I’ve nothing to lose.

“The course focuses on how to identify if you’re feeling depressed or anxious and what to do… it’s a brilliant course.

“You think you’re the only person feeling these things but there are lots of others.”

Heads Up is among a diverse number of free courses delivered by the Fettercairn Health Project, which is part of South Dublin County Partnership.

Ray with his certificate of completion

All of these programmes are in line with the HSE’s Slaintecare Healthy Communities Programme, which was officially launched in Tallaght last week.

The beauty of the programmes offered by the Fettercairn Health Project is their accessibility and relevance to those living locally – and the community connections and friendships fostered.

Progression from one programme to another is also an easy option, which Ray knows well after he moved onto the We Can Quit programme last February.

“I was smoking for 40 years and was thinking, I gave up the drink, I’m not giving up the smokes,” Ray said.

However, after learning of the supports available for people who wish to give up smoking, Ray gave it a go.

“It takes a lot of will power, it’s very hard, I won’t say it’s easy… but I did it,” he said.

“My daughter has given up the smokes too, she said if I can do it after 40 years, she can do it too.

“I definitely feel different, I can walk further without getting out of breath, I’m more energetic, I’m saving money, I genuinely feel better, and my taste is better.”

Cooking has also become more enjoyable for Ray, who cooks dinner from scratch for his mam every Saturday after taking part in the Healthy Food Made Easy programme.

“This programme shows you how to make quick, easy, cheap and healthy meals, nutritious meals that are tasty,” he said.

After completing three community-based programmes since the start of the year, Ray now has his sights set on a QQI training course, which is being funded by TASP.

Having taking part in online art classes during lockdown, Ray hopes to lead art classes once he is qualified.

As he prepares to start his QQI course next month, Ray has encouraged everybody to avail of the free courses on offer through the Fettercairn Health Project.

“It’s about getting people to realise these [programmes] are there, and they are all free,” he said.

“I didn’t think I had the confidence [to take part], but without trying you just never know.

“It’s better than sitting at home, isolating yourself, and there’s so many courses on offer, there’s bound to be something you like.

“You’ve literally nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

He added: “I’ve never been involved in any community groups before and never realised the resources available… it’s amazing.

“You also get a sense of community from being involved… I’m building links and meeting people as I go.”

October is Tallaght Community Health Awareness Month, with everyone invited to learn about the programmes on offer and the many different health and wellbeing supports available locally.

For further details call Samantha on 086 0839086 or South Dublin County Partnership on 01 4649300.

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