Putting mental health services on the map

GRASSROOTS DIARY CLAIRE FOX Independent

WHEN Bantry native Noreen Murphy lost her husband Dona! to suicide in 2007, there were little or no mental health services in the West Cork area.

A woman who likes to get things done, she set about trying to do something to fill the gap but realised — despite all the fundraising for mental health charities — very little of that money filtered its way back to West Cork.

People would raise thousands in West Cork each year but the charities would be based in Dublin or other cities and none of the funding would work its way down here,” says Noreen.

“After a few years I came to the stark realisation that 1 was somewhat banging my head against a brick wall. If 1 wanted anything to change then 1 had to do something about it myself.”

Seven years after the death of her husband Noreen set up Lisheens House Suicide Prevention Charity in Skibbereen to provide free counselling and support to people throughout the county of Cork.

Lisheen House makes local services available for local people.

“We provide services all over Cork. Wherever funding takes place we try to fund a service in that area, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Cork city or north Cork,” she says.

Yoga classes, music therapy and meditation also takes place in Lisheens House. Noreen believes the ethos of the charity can be replicated in other rural areas.

The name Lisheens House is the name of the family home Noreen and Donal lived in with their family of three children.  “I felt it fitting that others would find peace and comfort under the name of the place he had worked so hard to create,” says Noreen. She adds that people from all walks of life with all sorts of issues from depression to drug addiction come to Lisheens House for help, with loneliness being one of the most prevalent issues.

“It can be very isolating down here and there is still a stigma around depression. Many people’s children move away and they are left on their own. It’s very sad,” she says.

“The stigma has to be eradicated because if it wasn’t there maybe Donal wouldn’t have felt the same pressure and fear he had felt,” she says. Lisheens House is currently running a suicide prevention programme called QPR (Question Persuade Refer) to help people recognise the signs of depression.

For more information on the services Lisheens House provides or if you would like to donate call (028) 51950.

:Picture shows Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly TD with Noreen Murphy, founder, Lisheens House. PHOTO: Andy GIBSON