01 July 2010

Local Senator raises awareness of recession’s impact on mental health

Local Counselling and Support Services must be protected and developed at this critical time - Fitzgerald
Local Senator Frances Fitzgerald this week co-convened a cross party meeting to examine the impact of the recession on mental health. The initiative supported by Amnesty International heard from representatives of the mental health sector about the impact recent economic difficulties are having on individuals and on our mental health services.

Speaking to us about the event Senator Fitzgerald said that in recessionary times there is an increased risk of mental health issues.

“With many people facing unemployment, people living in negative equity and personal debts on the rise there are much greater financial and emotional strains on people throughout the country and right here on our doorsteps in Lucan and Clondalkin,” said Frances Fitzgerald.

“There has been a huge focus on the economic cost of the current recession, but we must not forget the very real social, psychological and mental health impact as well. Our endeavours in the Cross Party Group on Mental Health will shed light on one of the hidden impacts of the recession. Recent reports have shown an increase in the suicide rate since Ireland entered the recession – this is a trend we want to help stamp out,” she continued.

The meeting heard from Suzanne Costello, Director of the Samaritans Ireland and Orla Barry, Director of the Irish Mental Health Coalition.

Senator Fitzgerald pledged she will support growing calls from suicide and mental health advocacy groups for protecting resources in light of possible cutbacks.

“One in four people will experience mental health difficulties in their lifetime and it is in times of particular crisis or strain that people are most vulnerable. The down turn in the economy is putting many people under extreme pressure and it is imperative that Ireland’s Mental Health services are able to respond effectively. It is vital to ensure that suicide prevention is considered in the formulation of all economic and social policy to reduce this risk,” concluded Frances Fitzgerald.

Fine Gael’s Senator Frances Fitzgerald and Fianna Fail’s Deputy Chris Andrews are co-founders of the Cross Party Group on Mental Health.