Reflections after 49 North Street


By Líam Mac Gabhann & James O’Flynn

And why can’t our statutory mental health services respond to the needs of service users and provide effective non traditional biocentric care? Well they can and they do and although it is sometimes difficult to find those beacons of hope for future mental health care, when you do they are inspiring.

One such beacon of hope is 49 North Street, Skibereen, Co Cork that began as an idea,  a collective co-creating of ideas from mental health nurses, service users and local artists in 2011. The Newsfeed feature above ‘Making Music, Healing Souls’ that first appeared on Mad in America in 2021 provides insight into the fantastic creativity that brought about 49 North Street, which might have otherwise just become another day care centre. More recently the peer reviewed case study of 49 North Street’s evolution was published: ‘Creating Alchemy within an Irish Mental Health Service

It is pretty much indisputable that our traditionally run mental health services infrastructures and associated cultural approaches are not conducive to recovery. Most paradigmatic shifts continue to occur outside the mainstream. Yet in every corner of the island there are practitioners, service users and families that want this shift to happen in statutory services and in my experience they struggle to see how that is possible. 49 North Street continues to motivate me, as do other beacons inspire me to believe that the system itself can embrace the new paradigm in mental health.

On of the people that created the 49 North Street space is James O’ Flynn. We caught up recently to chat about what he has been up to, and what is now needed from mental health services. Have a listen.



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