Campaign demands better service for mental health

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LIMERICK’S high rate of suicide has prompted ‘Stand Up For Mental Health’ activists to demand more services in the city and county.

The group unfurled their new 14-foot banner over Thomond Bridge on Friday evening to highlight what they describe as “the lack of mental health services in Limerick.”

In a statement, the group said, “Limerick city now holds the shameful 2019 national record for the highest rate of death by suicide.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt compounded the mental health crisis we already have.”

Activists say that the inaction of Limerick City and County Council, the HSE and other relevant authorities has helped to flare the crisis.

Geraldine O’Loughlin said, “The World Health Organisation made it clear that any response to the pandemic must include a specific and co-ordinated approach to mental health services during and in the aftermath of it. We have seen no response so far and vulnerable people are suffering alone.

“We urge LCCC and the HSE to respond to this crisis at a local level. Special measures need to be put in place for Limerick to stop the loss of lives through suicide. They cannot continue to kick it down the road and blame the lack of a national response. There is clearly no political will at national level to take action, so local authorities should lead the way and put supports in place themselves.”

The SUFMH-Limerick campaign are calling for an on-call mental health crisis counsellor to be made available immediately, to deal exclusively with people who are in mental distress.

They are also campaigning for a proven mental health programme to be implemented into all schools when they re-open, as they say
young people in particular are in need of supports to deal with the isolation and anxiety they are experiencing.

The campaigners say they will not rest until action is taken to address the mental health crisis in LImerick.

The HSE has previously pointed out that there is a crisis service available.

In a statement to the Limerick Post, the HSE said, “The Mental Health Services provide a number of pathways for people in crisis. We always encourage people who need support to contact their GP in the first instance.

“People who already use mental health services can contact their local service or key clinician if they are in crisis. The service also has a crisis service in University Hospital Limerick which operates through the Emergency Department.

“Anyone using this service is followed up by the appropriate community mental health team. It is important to remember that admission to an acute facility is only one way for people to access the help they need,” the HSE statement concluded.