MORE than 1300 hours of face to face therapy have been provided by Pieta in Donegal from January to date this year, as the charity says it is braced for significant contact over Christmas.
The suicide and self-harm prevention charity is estimating that 324 people will get in touch with its helpline on Christmas Day.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Tom McEvoy, Fundraising and Advocacy Manager, said the charity’s projected figure of contact to its helpline is the unfortunate reality, as the cost of living crisis and post-pandemic issues are causing many to struggle.
He said the majority of those making contact for help are young people.
“That is the reality, unfortunately,” said Mr McEvoy.
“We are seeing a large cohort of under-25s coming to Pieta. That is significant in its own right.
“Those in this age group are struggling with social issues and all sorts of challenges which is raising anxiety for them.”
“Since January, more than 60 per cent of those who have sought the support of Pieta have been under the age of 25. This data applies to North West Pieta in Letterkenny as it does elsewhere. Trends are a combination of many factors including a contribution of a lot of stress which a lot of people have been coming to Pieta about since we opened our doors in 2006 but it has magnified. People are thinking about all the issues and challenges facing us, and that is magnified recently with the cost of living crisis and post pandemic issues.”
More than 1300 hours of face to face therapy has been delivered in Donegal from January to date this year.
“That figure is up, but we can only relate it to 2019 because in the following years of 2020 and 2021 our service was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our services moved online and our virtual therapy has evolved from the pandemic, and that is significant in its own right. It has helped us reach a lot more people in isolation who couldn’t get to our centres and a lot of people seeking support liked the idea of anonymity. It has really helped them to take those first difficult steps.”
The number of therapists in North West Pieta has increased to seven this year to meet demand.
“We are providing a greater service than last year and greater capacity than before. What this means is that if someone contacts us, they have a very short waiting time to be seen.
“Our helpline has been a great source of support for so many preceding the pandemic. We were expecting a large volume of people needing help and support in 2022 and we were in the lucky position we received financial support from the general community and that has been used to meet our increase in demand, which has been seen in Letterkenny and across Donegal.”
Mr McEvoy said the provision of therapy will continue right through the Christmas period.
Nationally, Pieta therapists have provided over 6,000 hours of bereavement therapy through the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service.
Pieta uses a range of services to support people and communities in crisis, including free counselling services and support for those who are at risk of suicide, engaging in self harm and those bereaved by suicide. All services are provided free of charge and no referral is needed.
Mr McEvoy thanked the local community for all their support and fundraising.
“We wish everyone season’s greetings and we would like to thank everyone for all their support throughout the year.
“Without it, we wouldn’t be able to help with support.”
He said the charity will shortly once again be turning its attention to the annual flagship fundraisier, ‘Darkness into Light’ in May.
North West Pieta, Letterkenny, is based on the third floor, Grand Central Building, Canal Road. Contact Pieta’s 24/7 via the freephone crisis helpline 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444.