Coaching for mental health

Gwynneth Witherow with Health Minister Jim Wells.  INCT 07-721-CON
Gwynneth Witherow with Health Minister Jim Wells. INCT 07-721-CON

Two Carrickfergus women have completed a new scheme providing support for mental health recovery through life coaching.

The first graduates of the Advanced Diploma in Mental Health and Wellbeing Coaching: from Recovery to Discovery received their qualifications at a ceremony in the Stormont Hotel recently.

Included were Anne-Marie Chambers and Gwynneth Witherow, both from the borough.

Coaching to support recovery for people with mental health needs has been developing in the USA and is emerging as a form of recovery support.

Prior to the Advanced Diploma piloted by the mental health charity MindWise, no coaching qualifications have focused on its application supporting those with complex mental health needs.

Explaining why she undertook the qualification, Anne-Marie said: “I wanted to be able to move people forward from the past into a better future of opportunities yet traditional counselling doesn’t really allow that. I was attracted to the coaching course as it offered a different, more positive, method for me to help my clients.”

Praising the content of the course, Gwynneth Witherow added: “The many tools and techniques I learned on this course has greatly improved my skill level in dealing with clients and allows me to help people realise their full potential.”

MindWise believes the coaching qualification is an important step towards the kind of person-centred practice and care that ultimately will aid more people in their recovery; helping them to live well in the presence or absence or their mental health needs.

Speaking at the graduation, Health Minister Jim Wells MLA said: “The past decade has seen some of the most significant changes in how we care for people with a mental illness and my Department has worked hard to contribute to this. In line with the vision of the Bamford Review, I want to see that all health and social care services put the ‘person’ at the heart of care. This principle is critical to the delivery of effective mental health care.

“It is important that we continue to de-stigmatise mental illness. The majority of people can and do recover from periods of mental illness and many others learn to live with their symptoms and lead full lives. Fundamental to recovery is social integration, education, training and employment.

“Mindwise, along with Kingstown College, are to be commended for drawing on their considerable expertise to develop this new and innovative programme. There is a growing recognition that coaching promotes positive mental wellbeing, which is fundamental to our quality of life. Complementing the services delivered by our health trusts, coaching can help improve the lives of those living with mental health problems by helping people to maintain good physical health, develop a sense of self-worth and contribute to their community.”

The qualification was developed as a partnership between MindWise and Kingstown College, and is the first of its kind in Europe.

It is accredited by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). MindWise have plans to expand the delivery of the programme following the success of the pilot programme.