HEADSUP is an evidence based mental health education and training programme for men who are finding life stressful, have issues with unemployment, feel isolated or lonely and wish to learn ways to improve their wellbeing. This group programme aims to encourage participants to make positive changes to their lives, develop resilience and offers support to access local services and supports.
HEADSUP gives men the opportunity to build their mental and physical fitness while developing their ability to make connections, set goals and develop a life plan to ‘get back on track’. Each programme varies as the needs of the participants are identified and supported through the pillars and principles of the HEASUP programme.> find out more
HEADSUP was great for me. I was in a bad place after my marriage ended and I needed support. And I got it!
HEADSUP is a group based education and support programme offering modules of evidence based mental health education, physical education, progression and positive social supports, whilst at the same time supporting individuals to avail of local supports and develop a life plan. The HEADSUP programme is delivered in line with National Policy, and Dublin South Kildare and West Wicklow Community Healthcare Connecting for Life and Health Ireland Plans.
HEADSUP is a programme that was initially set up for men and came about through a collaboration of partnerships working in the CHO7 area. The partners included, South Dublin County Partnership, Kildare Leader Partnership, Ballyfermot Chapelizod Partnership and Dublin South City Partnership.
The programme is aimed at individuals located in the CH07 area, whom are struggling with their mental health, life’s daily challenges, low self esteem and are looking for hope and direction.
Our aim is to work together to ensure men in CHO7 who are experiencing distress can participate in a Heads Up programme and make positive changes in their lives.
“The programme has given me a language to help describe how I feel. That has been great. I didn’t have that before and didn’t really know what was going on, and what to do. The way WRAP was delivered made it easy for me to ask questions and to tease things out. I feel much more in control”.
(Quote from participant)
HEADSUP delivers evidenced-based Mental Health education which supports men who have been experiencing adversity to gain an understanding of mental health recovery and wellness so that they can build their strength and resilience to respond effectively to stress and stressful situations. Over the duration of the course, participants learn to recognise the signs of stress and distress and, in turn, are supported to identify and choose more positive responses. This element is based on the Wellness and Recovery Action Planning Programme (WRAP). This is a well-established evidenced-based approach to supporting people experiencing mental health issues to develop their own personally tailored Wellness Action Plan. It gives participants an understanding of their mental health, space to express their emotions and tools to deal with different situations. It supports participants to identify what makes them well and to use their wellness tools for recovery and stability. WRAP can be used in conjunction with other approaches such as mindfulness based interventions (MBI). However, like everything on this programme, taking part in any exercises is optional for the men. WRAP provides a highly individualised plan which can be adjusted and updated. It includes: Wellness Toolbox, Daily Maintenance Plan, Identifying Triggers and Early Warning Signs along with Crisis Planning. Each programme also includes the inputs from key services and supports within the community as well as exploring areas impacting on one’s mental health, for example, sleep hygiene, managing stress and feeling low and exploring masculinity in how that can prevent men seeking support.
"Going to the gym was great. I had stopped looking after myself physically. Doing a bit of weight training made me feel positive. It was good to get out with the lads, have a chat, do some exercise and go home. I am now much more open to physical exercise and can see how it might help."
(Quote from participant)
HEADSUP provides a taster programme of physical activities that can be done as an individual or as part of a group. This element of our programme recognises the strong correlation between good physical and mental health. It is well researched that even 30 minutes exercise per day can have a massive benefit to overall health and heart health. As each participant may have various physical abilities, each physical activity piece goes at a pace that supports everyone. These sessions are aimed at increasing men's fitness levels, improving mood and enhancing a sense of wellbeing. They also aim to improve the team spirit and connectedness to others in the group. Often each area works together with their local sports partnership and develop a specific programme to meet the physical needs of the participants in each group. In the past the programme has incorporated ‘couch to 3k’ programme, chair yoga, 5-aside football and kick-boxing classes.
“This has given me a framework of services in which I can explore moves that I may wish to make, and I am grateful for that because I was ignorant of most of those services”
(Quote from participant)
The Life Planning pillar supports the participants to build a new life direction, enhance their self-esteem, explore pathways to change their thinking as well as identify supports that can help them realise that change. Life Planning provides information on pathways to work, education, volunteering or other activities that promotes a sense of wellbeing. Participants explore blocks or barriers that are preventing them from achieving and learn to develop a plan that will enable them to progress. Key services available in the community are facilitated to input into each programme, thus ensuring men are equipped with greater knowledge of services and supports available. Participants gain greater awareness of themselves, their skills, qualities and abilities as well as becoming more aware of the types of environments where they can flourish. Each participant develops their own life plan which identifies the goals and actions they wish to focus on beyond the programme.
“Before I started on the programme I felt like I was looking in at the world. It was like a foggy window and I was looking in. now I feel part of the world around me. I am part of wider society. It’s very hard to describe how positive this feels”. (Quote from participant)
This Positive Social Support pillar is about enhancing social connection through group work and male camaraderie. Many participants have found themselves feeling isolated and alone in their family or community, they may have lost employment, experienced a relationship break up or feeling lost. During the programme a space is created for men to be themselves, share and learn from others, reflect and relax and feel less isolated as they experience the power of mutual support "realising you are not the only one". They build connections with each other, improve their confidence and begin to recognise the importance of having supports in place to enhance their wellbeing.
Each programme offers links to other social supports within the community as well as organising events that encourage men to come together.
1. Participants are the primary focus of the programme.
2. Participants engage at whatever level they can.
3. Participants are supported to realise that there are no limits to what they can achieve.
4. Evidenced based mental health education is provided.
5. Peer support, personal development and adult education methodologies are utilised in the learning experience.
6. A person centred, strengths-based approach is key to the learning environment.
7. The programme follows the outlined work practices that underpin the programme.
8. The notion of male identity is explored and a shared understanding is developed.
9. Participants and facilitators are equal in the developmental process.
10. Participants are supported by experienced, qualified and empathic facilitators.
If you, or someone you know is in crisis and needs support, please call or access the following link for helplines:
Mental health supports and helplines during Covid19
Due to Covid19 safety measures we have adapted our way of supporting to keep people safe and well. As such, we are presently delivering the Heads Up programme via Zoom and are offering psychosocial support over the phone when required. We look forward to meeting up again in person as soon as it is safe to do so until then please contact us for further information about upcoming programmes online.
Mental Health Ireland – 5 ways to well being