EXHIBITION: Mary O’Sullivan from Park Road, will feature in a national photographic exhibition celebrating 10 years of Genio.

By Sean Moriarty

A Killarney woman who suffered from mental health issues as a teenager will feature as part of a national photographic exhibition to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Genio, a not-for-profit agency that helped fund her recovery.

Mary O’Sullivan, from Park Road,experienced significant mental health challenges from her late teens, which meant her time in university was cut short. She spent a number of years struggling with her health and unable to engage in work or education.

The first step on her recovery journey was when she joined the Kerry Peer Support Network in 2013.

The Tralee-based organisation is funded by the HSE and Genio, a not-for-profit charity that works with people living with disabilities, mental health difficulties, dementia, and those who are long-term homeless in Ireland, is celebrating 10 years and has collaborated with photographer Ruth Medjber to create the exhibition ‘Facing Change’.

The exhibition features 10 portraits of inspiring people from the four corners of Ireland, from a variety of backgrounds and across ages and genders. They have all been supported to overcome personal challenges.

“Having come from a dark place, experiencing mental health difficulties, my recovery began from being part of a recovery group, Kerry Peer Support Network set up by Brenda Healy in 2012,” Mary told the Killarney Advertiser.

“Attending and participating in this group greatly empowered my personal journey in recovery. We hold a recovery meeting each Wednesday in Rahoonane Community Centre, Tralee, from 10.30am to 11.30am, with teas and coffees after. The group provides people with mental health difficulties a safe and beneficial space to listen and share. The group was set up initially on a six-week trial and is still going strong.”

The exhibition began its national tour last weekend at Dublin’s Gallery of Photography and will now travel around the country.