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Monday 18 June 2018

Swift's hospital set to become 'world-class' mental health centre

Paul Gilligan at the launch
Paul Gilligan at the launch

The legacy of satirist Jonathan Swift as an early mental health advocate will live on as the Dublin hospital he founded almost 300 years ago is to be transformed into a world-class mental health wellness centre.

Swift, who is best known as the author of Gulliver's Travels and a Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, left £12,000 in his will when he died in 1745 to ensure that a "house" catering to "fools and mad" be built in his native Dublin.

Despite what would be seen today as a derogatory description of people suffering from mental health issues, Swift - also a former governor of the notorious Bedlam mental asylum in London - was an early pioneer of mental health advocacy and recognised the need to provide humane care and treatment of the mentally ill.

That same ethos - along with a focus on awareness of mental health and eroding the stigma of mental illness - is very much the guiding principle behind the transformation of St Patrick's University Hospital in Dublin to the new Jonathan Swift Campus for Mentally Healthy Living, according to St Patrick's Mental Health Services chief executive Paul Gilligan.

The first phase of the new centre will cost about €10m to build and will provide mental health initiatives for the public at large, along with the not-for-profit organisation's current and future range of day services.

"We're trying to open up the campus to more people," Mr Gilligan said.

"Ideally, we want to create this comprehensive wellness centre."

The centre will also be an international hub for world-class research in mental health and the emerging field of technology-based support and interventions.

The new facility - which will be built on the same grounds as the original circa-1746 hospital - is part of a new 25-year capital development plan that will cost around €100m.

Expansion

Fundraising for the first phase of the project will get under way this summer.

The redevelopment was announced at the launch of the organisation's five-year plan entitled Changing Minds Changing Lives 2018-2022.

Other initiatives included in the plan include the expansion of the Willow Grove Adolescent Service unit to include 20 beds and a new day programme, as well as the construction of a new 50-bed wing in the hospital.

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