Recentre, Northern Ireland’s first of its kind trauma support programme, have shared research at a launch event on Wednesday that reinforces the role that their unique approach to trauma support can play within the mental healthcare landscape in Northern Ireland. This event took place following Health Minister Robin Swann’s announcement of a designated Northern Ireland regional mental health service, and founders of Recentre urged decisionmakers to consider a broader range of approaches when dealing with issues surrounding trauma.
Recentre utilises talking and behavioural therapies – as well as other techniques that involve the body and nervous system – to help survivors of trauma acknowledge, confront, and begin the path towards healing. This unique proven approach to healing trauma, which has seen decades of success in the United States but is not currently carried out in Northern Ireland, was introduced to stakeholders working within the mental health profession, key decisionmakers, and those interested in engaging with Recentre to confront trauma or address mental health awareness.
“We feel passionately that our community-centred approach can help some individuals coping with trauma experiences to take the next steps toward a brighter future by presenting an immediate path for healing free from waitlists, offering a bespoke range of therapies and methods to find what works best for the individual, and helping to educate participants to be better equipped to deal with trauma beyond the programme whilst also helping to educate those around them about their personal trauma experiences and trauma as a wider topic,” said Holly Perreault, Founder of Recentre.
In July 2022, Recentre appointed independent researchers WellBeing in Mind (WBM) to conduct the evaluation of their pilot programme. This particular evaluation looked at women aged thirty-six to forty-six from Northern Ireland who had experienced complex childhood trauma. After taking part in over 75 hours of virtual and in-person group and residential therapeutic support sessions facilitated by Recentre’s experienced team, it was abundantly clear to the researchers that the programme is providing substantial and lasting benefit to its participants whilst also providing a route around staggering NHS wait-lists for mental healthcare.
Based on a qualitative study, the programme was found to have helped the participants in a multitude of emotional and physical ways. Isolation and feelings of loneliness, anxiety, sadness, anger and shame were dramatically reduced, and each participant reflected on how their bodies now feel more relaxed, and better equipped to cope with day to day challenges. Participants were also thankful to be provided with a safe place that enabled them to be vulnerable and trust others whilst healing through community. Many felt a growth in their confidence and warmly welcomed back feelings of joy and self-compassion.
“I am a survivor of multiple traumas and at the time Recentre came along, you know, COVID had happened, lockdown, and I was really, really struggling with stuff coming up from my past. Suddenly, I was back to being that child who, you know, there was a threat to my life. I felt powerless and I just felt like I didn’t have any control over my life. I was really struggling,” said Michelle Duffy, a participant in the trial programme. She went on to add, “Prior to doing the programme, I would have been very isolated because of my trauma. I felt it was very hard to trust people, making friendships, or going out meeting people. I feel better in myself and back, you know, have more control of my life.”
Northern Ireland has the highest prevalence of mental illness in the UK, with 1 in 5 adults having a mental health condition at any one time, meaning that the country has a 25% higher overall prevalence of mental illness than England. When it comes to trauma specifically, a worrying estimate of 61% of the Northern Ireland adult population have experienced a traumatic event at some point in their lifetime, whether this was during childhood or in later life.
Founder Holly Perreault – who is extremely open about her own lived experience of childhood trauma and her healing journey which was ignited by attending a similar programme in America – alongside her team, has structured Recentre’s programmes to address trauma through a lens of kindness, compassion and selflessness. Recentre provides flexible formats to fit the requirements of its participants, meeting them where they are and guiding them through their trauma healing journeys through community and supplies the tools participants need to thrive including new coping strategies, relationships strategies, and education.
Recentre’s vision for the future includes its programme becoming a key focus in the field of trauma support in Northern Ireland and beyond, seeking to improve relationships, decrease intergenerational trauma and, in turn, change the trauma landscape and narrative. It is important to the Recentre team that its services are accessible to all and recognised as an appropriate method of support for psychological distress. This will in turn help to improve mental health and well-being and decrease the need for prescription medication and self-medication amongst trauma survivors.