Tuesday 23 January 2018

Public meeting hears mental health concerns

RIGHT: Jane Johnstone speaking at the meeting.
RIGHT: Jane Johnstone speaking at the meeting.

A woman who experienced the devastation of suicide in her community called on people to take action through making contact and supporting their neighbours who may be suffering from depression at a public meeting in Ballinaboola on mental health in May.

Breda O'Sullivan from Enniscorthy said: 'Suicide happened years ago. It was going on in my time but suicide was swept under the carpet. People wouldn't ring the Samaritans as it could be your neighbour. I helped a lot of people. I knew the children who died.

'There are too many organisations now. Two weeks ago I had a woman in to me in floods of tears as she was told she had to take a CE scheme with people who had dementia and Alzheimer's on it and she wouldn't so her money was stopped and then she couldn't pay her rent. She was suicidal and I tried to get her into Carne House in Enniscorthy but there was a 36- to 48-hour waiting list.'

Ms O'Sullivan urged people to talk to their neighbours and to take action to help others.

'Where are the HSE?' was a question posed by campaigner Paul O'Hanlon at the meeting.

Mr O'Hanlon was one of several audience members to criticise the government and the HSE for the lack of services within the county for people with mental health issues.

He said: 'It's all to do with finance. Where is the joined up thinking?'

An elderly lady said she spent time in St Senan's psychiatric hospital, adding the support services the hospital provided have not been replaced in the county.

'Old people need to go out and protest like when the government was going to take their medical cards,' she said.

New Ross Municipal District cathaoirleach Michael Sheehan said he has been working with therapists, counsellors and GPs in the New Ross area to provide a service similar to It's Good To Talk. Cllr Sheehan said: 'There are no services after 5 p.m. and particularly from 5 p.m. on Fridays. We have made contact with the HSE about our plan.'

An ambulance paramedic decried the archaic mental health laws which saw people referred to as lunatics and idiots for suffering from mental health issues, adding that the law was only repealed in recent months.

He said: 'No wonder there is such a stigma. Our legislation needs to change rapidly. This is only the start and this can go very far if we allow it.'

A music promoter who travelled from Kilkenny spoke of the importance of supporting the Three Sisters Capital of Culture 2020 bid, saying it would have huge significance for creative people in Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny.

He spoke of the therapeutic power of music, adding: 'We have lost our sense of community and culture.'

The meeting heard that Samaritans staff come from across Ireland and the UK so it is highly unlikely that the caller seeking help would know the person on the other end of the telephone line.

Wexford People

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