My story begins in 2007 when my then 39 year old husband Donal and father of my children took his life in 2007, a hard working family man who appeared to have everything but who had been fighting a daily battle with depression and especially in a bad state for the previous two years, unfortunately he lost that battle on the 9th September 2007.
Up to the day of his death I had tried to get Donal to access the existing mental health services that were available in our area.
I felt he needed a place to go that would befriend him and allow him to talk, he refused to go to the hospital as the formal setting only added to his anxiety and heightened this unexplained turmoil going on in his head, needless to say the effect of this had on me and the three children was devastating.
I named the charity Lisheens House as this is the house we built as our family home, set in beautiful West Cork, Donal loved his home so much but battled with his illness and I know if he could see beyond his pain he would not have done what he did to himself and to his family so I wanted others to find peace and comfort in the place he worked so hard to create.
After Donal’s death I embarked on a campaign to highlight the lack of services not alone for Donal is his time of need but the lack of support and services for us his family up to the time of his death and the fallout after his passing.
I took the Government to task,lobbied politicians spoke on local and national radio stations and appeared on National Television. However all of this took its toll and after two years of campaigning I realised I was somewhat banging my head against a brick wall and was at risk of burnout and total exhaustion and I still had three children to look after.
I returned to work to support my family, but it was an itch that would not go away, so in my spare time and school holidays I researched what best I could do to honour Donal’s memory and make sure he did not die in vain.
And so Lisheens House came into being after I realised if I wanted anything to change then I had to do something about it myself.
The aim of the charity is to provide free counselling to people in distress and to help prevent happening to another person or family what happened to my family.
Thanks to the support of a small but dedicated band of supporters who sat around my kitchen table planning a way forward over many many cups of tea and launched our free counselling service on October 31st 2014 whereby anyone in crisis at risk of suicide or self-harm could call our confidential helpline to access help. Five years on the service has completely evolved, we now have a beautifully unique Wellness Centre to call home plus a panel of Counsellors who see Clients on our behalf throughout Cork city & county
We now also offer support to the families and friends of those in crisis plus QPR Suicide Prevention Training.
We still receive no State funding and simply could not have survived and grown without the unrelenting support of communities throughout Cork this past five years
I am truly humbled that something has risen from the ashes of my families personal tragedy, that has helped many many people over the last five years and I am forever grateful to everyone who has supported and donated to Lisheens House in that time.
Community Mental Health Matters