Innovative Project Aims to Facilitate Access to Mental Health Services

Posted on: 10 March 2011

A new TCD led project which aims to build better clinical services for individuals and families affected by psychosis was launched recently in Wicklow.  Dr Brian Fitzmaurice, Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, will lead the project PROTECT (Personalised Recovery Orientated Treatment, Education and Cognitive Therapy) which was developed with the aid of a €271,000 grant from the Genio Trust.   

The objective of the new project is to ensure that those identified by DETECT in Wicklow, an early intervention service, are enabled to access all of the services they need or choose.  A set of targeted interventions including Cognitive Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Family and Carer Education will be delivered in conjunction with DETECT ( and their own community mental health team.

PROTECT is a partnership initiative involving existing health, training and social care providers in Wicklow, which aims to improve engagement with individuals diagnosed with psychosis and the early intervention services.  The team will work closely with HSE Mental Health services, the DETECT service and the mental health support service, Shine, and will also involve strengthening collaborations with Wicklow County Council, Employability Wicklow, New Dawn (Eve Ltd), and service user representatives.

PROTECT’s focus will be on those who experience difficulties accessing or receiving recovery orientated treatments in the early phases of psychosis and aims to develop personal recovery plans for all people diagnosed with a psychotic illness and to develop high quality material for national usage.  The initiative will educate stakeholders regarding psychosis, mental illness and potential for recovery and positive outcomes.

Ciaran Cobbe, Dr Brian Fitzmaurice, Martin Rogan HSE Assistant National Director for Mental Health, and Dr Justin Brobhy from Newcastle Hospital all spoke at the launch of the PROTECT project.

In his address, Dr Brian Fitzmaurice said: “A key difference with PROTECT and any other programme of its type, is the role of the mental health service user, who will facilitate engagement between the client in the early stages of psychosis and the services as this is regarded as an anxious and confusing time for patients and their families.  They will also have a role in gathering patient’s perspectives on how services are currently delivered so that strengths and deficits are identified and service user’s views are incorporated into service planning.”

The project will have strong academic links with Trinity College who will assign an academic to evaluate the impact of the project on patient outcomes.  A TCD based lecturer in Cognitive Therapy for Psychosis will also work within the PROTECT team and significantly expand teaching capacity both in HSE services, SHINE and within TCD courses.  Funding for the project came from the GENIO Trust which aims to harness innovation and best practice within services for individuals with disability or mental health difficulties.