The risks of delays & difficulties accessing counselling services in Ireland

While mental health is certainly very much part of the national conversation these days it is disturbing to hear regularly how many aspects of our mental health service remain many years behind.

A clear illustration of this in a recent Irish Times article describes a situation where over 6000 individuals are awaiting counselling services through the HSE with over 1200 waiting 3 months or more. There seems to be particularly disturbing backlogs in the West of Ireland & North Dublin. Many of these individuals could be extremely vulnerable and may not have the resources to access private or alternative services.

Recently in my own practice I became aware of an individual who recently made a serious attempt to complete suicide but through complete chance was prevented.

This vulnerable person ended up being referred by a GP to the A&E department of a major hospital where they ended up walking out due to pure frustration waiting. They were to be contacted by phone as a follow up to this visit which apparently, unbelievably, has still not occurred weeks on. This individual & his network were not aware of the alternative free supports available even those provided by well known organizations such as Pieta house.

Luckily in this instance friends and family have rallied around and got the information & support required shoring up this deficit but for such a high risk individual’s life to be left to chance is extremely disturbing and seems to highlight the vestiges of an archaic, disconnected system with regards to identifying appropriate care for vulnerable people and their mental health.

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