The Voice Of A Generation

Mental Health and Ireland

A life is a life and yours counts!

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Once a week, on a routine visit to a GP I sit and pour out every anxiety I have let overwhelm my body. Every week it is different but the same story. The same symptoms under different circumstances. With only one conclusion Mental Health is finely stretched in Ireland and completely taken for granted.

Mental Health problems affect about 1/10 children in Ireland. Varying from depression to anxiety often a direct response to what is happening in their lives or family home.

With thousands of children directly affected by homelessness, due to poor housing policies and a complete lack of empathy from the state. Countless young people suffer from anxiety and depression. Growing up in a normalised community of trauma, stress and little opportunity.

In and out of these services for over ten years myself, there are a few things one can learn from living with Mental health issues and certain things to take going forward in recovery. Each one individual to the person impacted but with one common theme, the drugs don’t work.

30 under 30

Deciding on a new medication, we all want to believe that there is some solution, any solution to the many problems thousands of adults carry with them from childhood. Visiting my GP again he prescribed yet another pill. Highly addictive and usually ineffective until personal circumstances change I reluctantly took my prescription, the 30th anti-depressant under the age of 30.

Leaving underwhelmed by another ground-breaking diagnosis of “give it a few weeks” my faith in a GP service for mental health triggered immediate panic. Typing away checking the big book of pills for the right dosage and script, suggesting counselling that I respectfully refused again I left deflated. The GP looking equally frustrated.

Knowing this pill cannot possibly fix an accumulation of issues developed over a lifetime it would be naive for anyone to truly believe a tablet can be a fix for all. My GP encouraged me to return anytime for a chat, equally sceptical of the miraculous wonders of the many medications knowing I like many others need something more substantial.

There are numerous issues throughout a person’s life that lead them to the point of depression, suicide, addiction and in some cases hospitalisation.

The mental capacity to constantly struggle yet cope with issues that directly affect your immediate family or your social circle.

Making Ireland a more equal and accepting society has brought mental health to the forefront among a generation of sheer anxiety. Homelessness, abuse, addiction, exams, college, no jobs, worse pay and no access to education. A list that gives me anxiety to merely type.

With the obvious changes in attitudes towards sexuality, gender, and stigmatisation among ethnic groups these leaps that Irish society has made through massive struggles falls flat. Particularly in working-class areas such as Tallaght and Clondalkin where suicide has reached a pivotal point with over 40 people taking their lives.

The mental strain on an 18-year-old caring for a terminally ill mother worried about housing or work, education becomes bottom of the list of priorities.

The 58-year-old grandmother that cares for three young children due to tragic suicide now working two jobs for one basic income.

And then there are the women who desperately try console young children who lost a parent or family member because of suicide. They are left behind to carry the burden of stress the state refuses to acknowledge. They make school lunches and iron uniforms and teach in classrooms maintaining the much-needed stability so many are deprived of.

These are the most vulnerable in society.

On accessing help for mental health, you are usually told how eating healthily and exercising regularly can help. These are distractions. And place a certain amount of responsibility on the patient. Almost victim blaming.

“How many units of alcohol do you drink?”, “have you tried a FAS course?”, “perhaps some counselling”.

All factors in mental health but not addressing the causes or providing solutions beyond a prescription. Condemning people for typical behaviour during periods of depression or manic episodes will not help.

Anxiety is the main issue facing the majority of young people accessing mental health services. The waiting list to avail of these services alone immediately presents an issue.

The closure of beds and lack of services grossly underfunded, suggests the progressive Eire of 2018 is fickle. As does the horrific reality that Ireland’s teenage suicide rate is the fourth highest among high-income countries.

With over 150,000 people taking part in Darkness to light globally in May 2018, it’s blatantly obvious that suicide and mental health no longer need highlighting. Communities and charities should not be expected to provide a health service the state refuses to fund. Psychiatric beds available for children are way below the requirement. The massive failure to recruit psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists. Early intervention is essential. And often falls on the education system as teachers are expected to address issues surrounding mental health and deal with behavioral issues among young children.

The efforts of the communities and volunteers particularly in Tallaght warrant huge credit as they tackle a crisis among entire estates and deserve more than 61 Trees of hope where suicide is up 100%.

Over the course of a decade in treatment, I have found one thing proven to work in living with mental health issues. Often considered a cliché but essential is simply talking. Talk to your friends, scream at your parents, cry hysterically there is no shame in being human. Do not shy away from love or isolate yourself from those who love you.

A life is a life and yours counts!

Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental support, 24 hours a day for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.

 You can find more information here on their website, or you can contact their 24/7 Emergency Hotline on 116 123.

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