Providing a space for participants to tell their stories

‘Art gets to the core and heart of the artist and the observer, and is like our fingerprints. Each person is unique and different.’ 

Iontas participant

The Irish word for ‘wonder’ or ‘surprise’, our Iontas Arts & Mental Health programme brings arts experiences, such as music, visual art, creative writing, storytelling and drama to people experiencing mental health issues, to support their wellbeing and recovery.

Iontas is delivered by a team of skilled and experienced professional artists including visual artists Jill Bouchier, Ciara Harrison and Adele Stanley, musicians Jane O’Brien Moran, Liam Merriman and George Higgs, writer Lani O’Hanlon, storyteller Joe Brennan and theatre maker Liam Meaghar.

To reach a broad range of mental health service users across the community, Iontas takes place in a number of settings including the Recovery Hub, Odhran Lodge, Grangemore and Aidan’s Ward at St Otteran’s Hospital; Waterford Residential Care Centre, the Department of Psychiatry (DOP) at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Iontas has been running since 2014, having originally started as a Music in Mental Health Settings programme in 2007, before broadening out to include other artforms. Now delivered in partnership with the Waterford Wexford Mental Health Services (WWMHS), Iontas is guided by a steering committee and is funded through a Section 39 Service Level Agreement with the HSE (Waterford Wexford Mental Health Services) and Arts Council Strategic Funding.

To develop and grow the programme Waterford Healing Arts pursues additional avenues of funding e.g. National Lottery, Mental Health Ireland, Creative Waterford, Local Authority, sponsorship and fundraising events.