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Lack of funding for Mid-West mental health services cannot continue – Leahy

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Mental health services in the Mid-West have been described as “unfit for purpose” by one service user.

Caherdavin native, Stephen Leahy is calling for increased resources to be pumped into mental health services in the Mid-West. The twenty eight year old who has suffered from anxiety issues has actively spoken on the topic via his Instagram page (@theanxiousbarber).

Images of the River Shannon in Limerick City have now garnered a negative portrayal due to the heartbreak associated with the location by the people of Clare and Limerick, he felt. “It’s a sorry state of affairs when we live in a city where the sound of a helicopter in the night sky sends shivers down most people’s spines! This of course, being the search and rescue helicopter after yet another troubled soul has attempted to take their own life by entering the River Shannon. Unfortunately most succeed”.

Stephen believed that GPs are not given adequate resources to properly tackle mental health across the country. He stated, “The first port of call for those suffering or just not feeling okay will be their GP. Plenty of mental health patients seem to have an anger towards their GP about how their problem was handled, but there really is only so much a GP can do when it comes to mental health and suicidal thoughts. Every GP may be able to diagnose depression, anxiety, bi-polar etc. but as a doctor in Ireland, they have limited resources to which they can turn. Sure, a doctor may offer medications to some or even recommend meditating in an anxiety instance, but most GP’s who recognise a serious mental health issue will refer you to so called professionals”.

He criticised the day hospitals in Limerick specialising in mental health, particularly Tevere House on Shelbourne Road which Stephen described as “hell on earth”. He claimed that the facility “does not serve its purpose”.

Having attended Tevere House in an attempt to aid his anxiety disorder, the twenty eight year old said his time there brought little help and he questioned the training of some staff in dealing with mental health patients.

The HSE failed to respond to a request from The Clare Echo to determine if it was happy with the level of resources allocated to mental health services in the Mid-West and the standard of operations at Tevere House.

Voluntary efforts of the Limerick Suicide Watch in patrolling the bridges to try prevent suicides at the River were singled out by Leahy who described the individuals as “reflective jacket clad heroes”. He criticised the lack of financial assistance provided to the group. He calculated that it costs €450 to train and equip each and every member of the suicide watch, and costs about €40,000 a year plus VAT to keep the organisation operating.

Action is needed to improve mental health services urgently, Stephen stressed. “In the words of a dear friend who took his own life, ‘if one person jumps, the world stays on its station, but if we all start jumping we can get this planet shaking,’”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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