Murty Kelleher, Brendan Mccarthy, Bernice Landers, Susan Crowley, Carl Keegan, Stephen Hargrave at the opening of The Next Step premises.

Stepping into better mental health

Marguerite Kiely

The official opening of The Next Step's new location took place recently with the Lord Mayor, Cllr Kieran McCarthy in attendance. The Next Step supports people who have experienced depression, mental health or emotional difficulties in their lives.

The programme offers a variety of creative activities and workshops designed to support and enhance mental health and overall well-being. These activities include art studio sessions, meditation, Irish conversation, yoga, woodcraft, singing, creative writing, drama and zumba.

The Next Step, which is run by Cork Mental Health Foundation, has now moved to a new location at 22 Sullivans Quay, next to Quay Coop. The opening featured members reciting poetry, displaying art and collage pieces, and the launch of their new magazine, Speak Your Mind, which promotes positive mental health.

The ethos of The Next Step is to provide a safe and welcoming space for participants, offering a chance to build self-confidence, self-esteem, and meaningful friendships. The programme does not provide therapy or counselling but aims to help participants feel better about themselves, enabling them to connect more effectively with friends, family, and the community.

The initiative began in 2011, initially as a 10 week art class, which was offered at the Camden Palace Hotel community art centre.

The success of this programme led to the establishment of The Next Step, which gradually expanded its range of activities and secured funding to operate five days a week.

The programme is grounded in the belief that the arts can significantly contribute to good mental health, and people who have engaged with The Next Step have shared their positive experiences, highlighting the impact the programme has had on their lives.

“I was referred to this service at a time in my life when I was recovering from mental distress, and it proved invaluable to me,” said one individual.

“Through it I made wonderful friends and developed my skills as an artist and writer. I have learned so much along the way about the creative process, about life and about myself.

“Just watching people flourish in the group has been an incredible experience.”