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PsyCare Ireland at Ealu Le Gra: Event report

We are delighted to report that we were on hand to help out at another amazing event this Summer. Over the June Bank Holiday weekend a team of 15 PsyCare Ireland volunteers made their way to the beautiful grounds of Cragg Castle, Co. Galway for the Ealu Le Gra festival.

PsyCare Ireland volunteers worked alongside medics, event control, and security to ensure the safety of everyone on site. The team provided a 24 hour welfare service over the course of the weekend, supporting 23 people through a spectrum of psychological challenges plus alcohol and substance induced intoxications.

While summer festivals are a well-established part of the music scene in Ireland, mental health care is something that is often overlooked at events. But that's a situation that is finally beginning to shift and evolve.

'Festivals are highly charged, colourful, loud and busy environments' said Paul Kinsella, Psycare committee member and volunteer, 'and while these spaces are fun for many, for others they may be overwhelming, and it may not take much for stresses brought in from the outside world to spill over, sometimes into crisis.'

'More and more promoters see the benefit of having a psychological welfare service there in addition to the medics who provide vital physical care. We would argue however that the culture needs to change faster and not solely be driven by financial considerations.'

In 2021 a HSE survey found that 94% of 1,193 respondents said they had used drugs at festivals, with 87% reporting polydrug use and mixing drugs and alcohol. The harm reduction approach to our work is always to advise people that the safest thing to do is not to ingest substances at all.

'The reality however is that most people will do it anyway', says Kinsella, 'so we are there as a safety net, working in conjunction with medical staff should things go wrong...which they do. We provide an incredibly valuable service and I'm feeling very privileged to have worked alongside this incredible group of people'.

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