Rural Social Schemes in Carlow strive to promote positive mental health – Carlow County Development Partnership

Carlow County Development Partnership has urged community groups in Carlow to take advantage of the Rural Social Schemes in their communities in a bid to promote positive mental health.

It has been documented that aesthetically beautiful environments can contribute to positive mental health and CCDP are urging communities to take advantage of the grants available in their areas to make their towns and villages more aesthetically pleasing through the use of flowers, plants and landscaping in the public areas.

CEO of CCDP Mary Walsh says, “The Rural Social Schemes (RSS) are in operation in all counties in Ireland and therefore community leaders should use these schemes to make their communities more attractive for those that live there and also for those who come to visit – particularly during the summer months. Research has clearly illustrated that people with mental health issues such as depression benefit from being in a pleasant environment and although this is certainly not going to solve all of their problems, it is a small step towards helping people feel more positive,” she pointed out.

The benefits of the RSS for the communities are enormous as the scheme helps improve local amenities and facilities in rural areas, while also employing local people who would otherwise be unemployed, but through these schemes are genuinely contributing positively to their communities.

Irene Ryan chairperson of Carlow Mental Health Association says that the power of a colourful and pleasing environment cannot be underestimated.

“With one in four people suffering from a mental health problem, we have a responsibility to do what we can in our own communities to ensure a positive living environment. With depression predicted to be the leading chronic illness by 2030 we cannot afford to be negligent with our mental health. The Rural Social Scheme is also beneficial to those who are employed in it, as they are engaged in physical exercise, which is of great benefit to the mind and body. Creating recreational spaces that are pleasant to be in and promote engagement with other people, helps prevent rural isolation – a huge contributor to depression.”

Mary Walsh calls on all communities to observe their locality – particularly at this time of year – and seek out areas that could be improved or developed into a more pleasant space for locals and visitors alike.

“Carlow County Development Partnership is here to help any community group that is interested in creating a more beautiful environment for residents and it is in everyone’s best interests to have colourful, people-friendly spaces which encourage positive interaction and engagement with others in our towns and villages,” she says.