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.
Below is a recent promotional video the IACP made at a recent conference explaining to prospective clients what they might expect from their first session of counselling/psychotherapy.
“Going To Therapy For The First Time? Here’s What To Expect.
“Perhaps you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. Or maybe you’re unhappy in your job, and need some guidance in figuring out what career will really make you happy. Or, it could be that you’re having relationship difficulties or simply not feeling fulfilled but you are not entirely sure what makes you feel this way…
If any of the above situations applies to your life, counselling/ psychotherapy could be helpful. So what is stopping you?
Some clients say it was fear of the unknown keeping them from seeing a counsellor because they just didn’t know what to expect…
So what happens during the first session. Here is what some experienced therapists have to say.”
Over the past seven years my community based work as a therapist and in advocacy roles has put me face to face with the harsh effects of economic recession.
I have worked with many individuals & families experiencing first hand the effects of sudden homelessness, unexpected unemployment and serious accommodation issues to name but a few.
These experiences have repeatedly brought home to me how economic recession and the “boom bust” nature of the business cycle has serious implications for the nations mental health.
As we experience a new part of this cycle, it is worth pausing to think about whether our current approach to areas like health, housing and employment has evolved at all in light of recent experiences.
This becomes more urgent when considering impending changes to global corporate tax policy, Brexit and our growing/ageing population are all likely to figure in the next phase of this cycle.
This article highlights results of research led by Trinity College Dublin (based on the Growing Up in Ireland study) and puts some data and context behind the discussion.