Category: Recovery Colleges

A trip to the Belfast Recovery College

I attended a forum meeting in DCU Recovery College in March.  The Recovery College coordinator invited all students if they would like to attend the launch of the Belfast Recovery College in the Black Box Theatre. Some took the opportunity to go and see what it was all about.

We got the chance to meet and greet with those who are passionate and oversee the running of the Recovery College. Through drama, the amazing recovery college students demonstrated   what it’s like for those who have mental health issues, due to different experiences at some point in their lives, be it biologically, psychologically or socially.

The drama gave us a taste of how to reclaim the authentic self through education, therefore enabling students to go forward in mental well being and recovery.  Students shared how the Recovery College was   paramount to the healing process.

I couldn’t  help notice like the Recovery College in DCU,  the sense  of being  loved and a sense of  belonging  that  stood out among the  students and team leaders at the launch. This was enhanced by knowing that all students and educators have lived experiences and are treated equally on their own journey.

I have my own story of loss, however I’ve learned to believe in a brighter day. The Recovery College is a place to feel safe and also to learn a new way about mental health recovery.  The Recovery College launch was about ordinary people embracing mental health in a new way and learning to become fully alive.

Thanks for a great day with the Recovery College Belfast.


ARI Recovery – Making It Happen

I was delighted to be invited to the ARI learning set entitled ‘Recovery – Making It Happen’, hosted in the Bonnington Hotel. This was an amazing opportunity to gain insight into the experiences of those who provide and use the recovery services currently available within Ireland, as well as looking to the future of recovery.

Coming from my own background as a third year undergraduate student of Psychology, I had become very familiar with the more medical approach to analysing and treating mental health and this perception has become open up to viewing mental health as something that can benefit greatly from a recovery approach that encourages empowerment of the individual.

The day consisted of an exhibition of the various recovery services available to people, along with different talks given by service providers and service users giving their personal experiences of either providing recovery orientated services or using the services, and a selection of workshops aiming to provide knowledge on the different aspects of recovery. I attended two of the workshops – ‘Making Recovery Happen Through Supporting Skills & Knowledge Development’ and ‘Peer Support Workers supporting recovery oriented mental health services’. The first workshop I attended concerned the role of peer support workers. After gaining a better understanding of the why having peer support workers is important in the journey toward recovery, I was surprised to learn that there are only a total of 35 peer support workers currently in Ireland. This workshop highlighted for me the importance of peer support workers as they fill a previously neglected gap in the mental health services by providing the services with a perspective from someone with lived experience of having mental health difficulties. The final workshop included a talk from a Recovery College student, Marian, discussing her experience as a Recovery College student to working with the college to collaborate on creating and delivering courses to further contribute to the mental health recovery education.

The day proved to be an informative experience that delivered valuable information on the way mental health recovery is currently regarded through personal anecdotes of service users and talks given by service providers. Both the workshops and talks provided me with information that strongly cemented for me that a service and recovery initiative that is influenced by individuals who have the lived experience of facing difficulties regarding their mental health is one that will understand and better cater to the needs of the people it serves


Cooperation and Working Together Job Positions Co-operation and Working Together (CWAT)

While the Dublin North East Recovery College will be working closely with CAWT on initiatives these are not Dublin North North East Recovery College posts so enquires should be to the contacts on the links below.
A project supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by
the Special EU Programmes Body.
Innovation Recovery (i-Recovey) Project
is the cross border health and social care
partnership, comprising the Health Service Executive in the Republic of Ireland and the
Southern and Western Health & Social Care Trusts, Health and Social Care Board and
Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. Formed in 1992, CAWT’s focus is on improving
the health and social well-being of the resident population, through strategic and practical
cross border collaboration.

Recovery College Coordinator

Recovery College Business Support Coordinator

Lead Peer Educator

Peer Educator


Establishing the Dublin North, North East Recovery College

Recovery Colleges have been part of the story of mental health services development in Ireland since around 2013 when the Mayo Recovery College was launched. Since then a number of partnerships in each health catchment area have been trying to attract funding and resources to develop recovery colleges around the country, with mixed results.  As part of the Advancing Recovery in Ireland (ARI) initiative, establishing a recovery college is a key objective of each site around the country. A core group of researchers and community activists in DCU School of Nursing & Human Sciences became interested in exploring the possibility of establishing a Recovery College in Dublin North, North East. An exploratory partnership with individuals, voluntary organisations, other educational hubs and mental health services in CHO areas 8 & 9(Dublin North, North East areas) was established.

Having reviewed some of the literature and recovery college governance frameworks nationally and internationally; visited some sites and listened to presentations from a number of UK based Recovery Colleges, the team noted some contradictions in many of the existing college structures. Most colleges were established in mental health services; co-ordinated by health services staff; under health services governance; and much of the course content similar to other clinically focussed courses provided in services. Whilst recovery education is being rolled out in mental health services, it does so within an infrastructure governed by health services institutional norms that are by design in contrast to an emancipatory educational philosophy.

Together with partners we developed an alternative vision for a recovery college that was more aligned with an empowering and transformative recovery-based educational experience.  Our vision was to place governance outside of mental health services within the community and through community development principles, to grow the college as a collaborative community collective. Each partner would of course have their own governance structures, though the college itself could be governed by the collective partnership itself. Putting the vision into practice the partnership successfully applied for two year seed funding from the Nursing & Midwifery Planning & Development Unit, Dublin North in December 2015. This provided us with a fantastic opportunity to develop a community recovery college in parallel to mental health and other care services. The Dublin North, North East Recovery College (DNNERC) was established in February 2016 with the first full programme of courses delivered from October 2016.