Online mental health service records 20% rise in calls

Dessie Farrell, GPA chief executive.

Calls for help to a mental health service have spiked by 20% in the run-up to Christmas.

Online charity Turn2me has had almost 50,000 visits to its website so far this month, up from an average 40,000 hits a month.

Oisin Scollard, of Turn2me, said extra services will be provided to meet demand.

“For many, Christmas is a time to fear and a time to loathe,” he said.

“It puts people under immense pressure, financially in some cases, mentally in others.

“In essence, people need support through Christmas, and ironically most services are closed.

“It amazes me to think that many services still position themselves first, before their users.

“At Turn2me.org, I want to change this and provide support to people over the holidays.”

The charity also offers eight weeks free online counselling with a trained professional through its Engage programme on www.turn2me.org/engage.

Elsewhere, the number of GAA footballers and hurling players using a counselling service has trebled.

Some 94 county players engaged with the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) confidential counselling service by end of October – a 203% rise.

Dessie Farrell, GPA chief executive, published the review to highlight how many men have come forward following the suicide of Niall Donohue and former Cork hurler Conor Cusack speaking openly about depression.

“We also want to indicate our intention to establish a specific campaign in 2014 aimed at encouraging players to engage with our mental health program and services with a focus on changing the culture within our membership,” he said.

“The death by suicide of Galway’s Niall Donohue has sharpened the focus on our challenge.

“We know we must redouble our efforts to make sure that the young men in society struggling with distress are encouraged to engage with support, that we hear the call and recognise the signs of their distress.”

The service provides a dedicated members phone line, one-to-one counselling and residential treatment for players suffering distress in their lives.

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