What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
In 2008 I have discovered that not everybody is able to access professional mental health services in Ireland, Poland. Most of people living in suburbs can not afford to travel and pay for specialist. That is why I have decided to build online support system for clients with Internet access. My belief is that Internet coverage is constantly growing to level where almost everyone will have access. My belief is that people are more interacting in INTERNET on daily basis from year to year. Time spend on online services is rapidly growing. We can include psycho-education, access to mental health support behind social services. We can promote positive mental health better through social networking sites.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
In 2004, I moved to Ireland from Poland where I previously worked as a psychologist. Over time I was alarmed to find out that navigating the Irish health system for clients is much more complicated than I had been accustomed to back in Poland. For example, it typically takes 18 months from the time when the GP of an Irish patient refers them for specialist mental health care in Ireland to the time when they’re actually seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist. In comparison, a crisis intervention in Poland can happen almost instantly. Also, the Irish system appears to be set up to provide clients with zero levels of support or a full, psychiatry-level of intervention when most people in Ireland would benefit from having a lighter level of intervention when they first start encountering mental health issues.
I therefore decided to start up a more flexible model of support that could treat people when and where they needed it most. I wanted to create a service that was the first call for people, when they knew they had to make the toughest call they might ever have to make. I did this by getting other licensed psychologists involved who, like myself, had immigrated to Ireland from countries which provided lighter and more flexible models of support and were happy to support their local communities to have improved mental health outcomes. I called this The PPD – the Psychological Centre.
This is a new and unique model of intervention which has the potential to support thousands of people with mental health problems every year in Ireland. In recognition of my innovative approach and model, I received an award from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland in 2009 and most recently, I won the Social Entrepreneur category of the David Manley Awards.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
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