Why we seriously need better mental health services
This SpunOut.ie reader writes an open letter to the government about the lack of mental health facilities
Written by Aimee Austin
Voices - Opinion
Young people share their point of view.
Before I get into my letter, I’ll introduce myself. I’m 20, studying in UL and I have a mental illness. To be more specific, my diagnosis is severe depression and generalised anxiety. My reason for writing this is simple. I believe my country and my government are failing me and so many others. 392 people died by suicide in Ireland in 2018. We are in the middle of a crisis and we are not being helped.
The government is not listening
Organisations of volunteers are doing all they can, but it is not enough. Charities and volunteer organisations alone cannot hold the weight of this emergency. I’m not saying I have the solution because I don’t. However, something must be done and you, the leaders of this country are not listening. You present yourself as if you are, but I know you are not. If you were, you would be reaching out with open arms instead of brushing us under the carpet.
The facilities you present to those of us that need them are either poor or overburdened. I’ve only ever come across one doctor who listened and understood, but I was transferred to a different facility that I was told would be better equipped to deal with me. My case was transferred to a mental health hospital here in Limerick. I was very happy to get an appointment quickly, but I wish I hadn’t. I was dismissed, brushed off and not listened to. I’m generally quite good at talking to doctors but it felt like the eyes of every doctor in there was judging every word I said. I was afraid to say how I really felt because they would just tell me that I didn’t really feel like that. My evaluation was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was told I may not have depression but maybe I just struggle to cope with daily life. I had my dosage of antidepressants doubled. I was told no reason for the change and sent on my way. It made me want to give up.
This hospital did however refer me to a counselling organisation called Jigsaw. Jigsaw is for young people up to the age of 25 and is a free service. I have heard great things about them but unfortunately, I was put on a three-month waiting list. I contacted them in June and now as I sit here writing this on the 8th of October, I have still not had my first appointment. They are overburdened with young people trying to seek help and for some that three months is too long to wait. I find myself slipping deeper and deeper into an emotionless state every day that I wait. I’ve lost all interest in the things I used to love and very little brings me genuine happiness anymore. Sometimes I don’t think I can do it any longer and it scares me to not want to be alive.
Others like me have not been able to hold on that long and have taken their lives. They have taken their lives in my neighbourhood and in my University. I see articles everyday of another suicide because the support they needed was not there for them. These people weren’t cowardly or selfish, they were failed by you.
We need action to be taken
So, I sit here writing this letter to you, the leaders of our country, out of anger and frustration. How many more judgemental doctors will I face? How many more waiting lists will I be put on? How many more lives will have to be taken before something meaningful is done?
I understand that all the country’s funds cannot be poured into mental health facilities, people are crying out about this issue and action needs to be taken. Maybe you do have something in the works, maybe you are doing something, but it is not enough. From where I am, I see no changes being made and no help being provided. We are fighting as hard as we can against these terrifying illnesses, but we can’t do it on our own. Your celebration of Mental Health Awareness week means nothing to us without action.