Testimonials from service user participants
“Oh, it( EOLAS) was fantastic. A really brilliant programme I thought it was a really participant orientated and very questioning and very inclusive of others"
"what would be fantastic is if the HSE saw the importance of such a program and rolled it out on a much higher scale…on a much grander scale than it is, because I'm one of the lucky few and I use the word few quite seriously".
INCREASED KNOWLEDGE OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
“…if you told me there are services available to the extent that is described in the programme, I wouldn’t have believed you, but now it’s like, now I know that if I need something that the services are there."
“…if I had a criticism it would be that it was never clear to me until the EOLAS program exactly who was on the mental health team........ I would say now having done the EOLAS course the real difference is I know if t that’s (relapse) going to happen again, I know that there are services in place that can help me through that,"
INCREASED KNOWLEDGE OF RELAPSE PREVENTION
“(EOLAS gave)…the analysis of your illness and that and the medical perspective (and) how to approach your illness from self-help and practical…in a very practical type of wayI felt more confident trying to approach it, rather than when I came home from hospital and I hadn’t of had any programme; I would have been just lost...”
“…the way it is, is I wouldn’t have appreciated that there were triggers. Like, I know now that there were triggers…during the course or whatever, a light was turned on. Before I would not acknowledge that that would be a trigger. Things like that, it’s different for everyone I suppose but for me it would be say something going on within the family, with the husband you know just things like that."
IMPROVED FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
“…It was finding these coping strategies and talking to us about family members like don’t shut them out totally even though you don’t want them all the time to be worried about you…It was just little tips like that ”
“Worked well? Mostly I think the group together, where we could see in each of us had the similar problem and it wasn’t something that was completely in your own head and that a lot of people suffer from and the symptoms can be the same in different people and that it’s treatable.…It’s nice to talk about things to people who understand. Schizophrenia is a thought in your head and it can seem very true to you and just to meet people who have the same thing is kind of comforting."
“You do feel ‘God I’m not the only one that goes through this’ and you see someone doing well and you think ‘well there is a light there, she is doing well."
“It really, more than helped, its restorative, its, no it’s incredible"
“…it was brilliant because she was even able to talk about the side effects and you knew she wasn’t just taking it from a book you know"
TESTIMONIALS FROM THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS GROUPS
OVERALL VIEW OF THE EOLAS PROGRAMME
"EOLAS was a god-send because I was so much in the dark and so much, I was like a zombie walking the streets. No direction to go, no plan, no understanding. After attending that course, I had a plan. I had an understanding. I had a handle on (family members) sickness.”
“My experience was positive, positive, positive, positive...I feel privileged to have been on it, I honestly do. It was so helpful"
“I would certainly recommend it to family members because I think it gives you a skill. Leaning to allow people to be themselves. It also alerts you to the signs to where a person deteriorates and that was good information to be reminded about again
INCREASED KNOWLEDGE OF MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS
“Well the best I can say about that is that everything I thought I ever knew about mental illness, I just rolled up in a ball and threw it in the bin because I knew nothing. It was only through the programme I started to realise how mental illness affects people.
“…at the end of the course I felt that from an information point of view it was fantastic…every week you got something new out of it. Whether it was the explanation of the family supports that were available or whether it was State Aid that were available to people, each week I came home thinking ‘God you know Im after learning something there and it was 2 hours really well spent’.”
IMPROVED FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
With the knowledge (gained from the EOLAS programme) I just said ‘count to ten (says own name) and keep calm, do what you have to do and walk away until everything is safe. Now stop shouting or screaming, deal with it in a quiet manner…I couldn’t deal with it, I just couldn’t deal with it and since the EOLAS programme I seem to be dealing with everything in a much calmer fashio
“Well I suppose any of the evenings that I did attend, I would go through it with his Dad and say what went on at the class. You know that was a benefit to me. Looking …We’re [family] talking through things more and overall I say we’re communicating a lot better and we’re more open about our own feelings on the matter. I would have bottled up a lot of my tension for the sake of the family; my husband would have been the same…now when I’m feeling bad about something or worried about something I would say it to him…with the siblings as well yes. I feel that they are letting us know how they’re feeling a bit more."
“...my (spouse) had become unwell because of the stress because we weren’t talking about it up till then...I think we’re definitely making it important that we have our own time and we kind of communicate with each other a bit more about it.”
BENEFITS OF A PEEER FACILITATOR
“She (peer facilitator) was quiet open about sharing her experience; a very wise person I suppose you realise you haven’t done anything wrong, that everybody has reached the same stages and same peak and troughs that you’ve reached, the same despair that you’ve reached"
“it was great that (peer facilitator) had self-experience of when things go wrong and he had been there at the cold face when stuff goes wrong…you were dealing with somebody who had been through it just like you .."
MEETING OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS
“...what struck me was that every other family member, every other person…had the same level of pain...”
“…comfort in meeting other people in a similar situation I think that was the biggest single thing. The realisation that we’re not alone; that there are many people going through similar situations"
“Yeah because everyone is in the same boat as yourself and you were able to speak out and not feel stigma attached to your situation where everyone would have the same and maybe worse.