Call for additional mental health support in Ballyfermot

by Dublin Gazette

A TD for Dublin South-Central has called on the government to fund a community-based response to prevent further suicides in the Ballyfermot area.

The call comes after several young women in the Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard areas have passed away in the last number of months. Three women in the area have died by suicide in the past two weeks.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh (SF) made a call for the government, in particular Minister Catherine Byrne, to visit services in the Ballyfermot area that are trying to provide support in the wake of the recent epidemic with a low level of resources.

Teachta Ó Snoadaigh said: “The level of suicide is at near epidemic proportions in [Ballyfermot] with over 20 deaths in the last two years. The profile of those dying is different to elsewhere, with 50% being women, often many with young families and often dying a violent death.

“These deaths have hit the community like a tornado and left families and the community in mourning and appealing for urgent help. The local support services are overwhelmed and crying out for more resources to help those in distress, those at risk of suicide.

“I call on Minister for Mental Health Services and Minister for Drugs Services Catherine Byrne who lives in the constituency to visit the area, to meet with the services such as Star and Familibase who are struggling to cope and to resource the multi-agency approach to suicide and mental health issues which this epidemic demands.”

Ó Snodaigh said that the community groups need additional resources in order to thrive and help support the locals that are grieving in the wake of the recent tragedies.

“At present the local drugs taskforce and community groups cannot cope without additional resources so they can support grieving families, those at risk of suicide and the community in general.

“While acknowledging that there is no instant quick-fix to the rise in suicide in this area or anywhere in the country, there is a need for the roll-out of programmes such Safetalk, Storm, and access to other mental health services in the community on 24/7 basis.”

Speaking to Dublin Gazette, Minister of State for Health Promotion & the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, said she is familiar with the groups working on the ground in Ballyfermot, and is open to a meeting with local groups to discuss any concerns

Minister Byrne said: “Any loss of life by suicide is a tragedy for the family and community affected.

Improving outcomes for people with severe mental illness and substance misuse problems is a strategic action in the national drugs strategy, ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’.

The National Clinical Programme for Dual Diagnosis is progressing, and there is now a draft Model of Care in place which describes the clinical pathway for patients experiencing both mental health and substance misuse problems, including connectivity with primary care substance misuse services, community mental health services, and acute services.

I am familiar with many of the local groups working in Ballyfermot and the work they do on the ground. I am always open to meeting with such groups, should they request it, to discuss issues of concern in their community.

Where concerns relating to mental health services are raised with me, I would bring them to my colleague Minister Jim Daly, who has responsibility for Mental Health, as a matter of priority.

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