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Rural isolation raises threat of mental illness



Rural isolation raises threat of rural isolation

The threat of mental illness and suicide among Galway’s farmers is heightened by loneliness and isolation, it was warned this week.

The Government was accused of failing mental health services after a new survey revealed that over half of farmers have had a direct experience of suicide.

The study, by the ICMSA, found that 53% of farmers had been affected by suicide, with 16% having dealt with it in their immediate or wider family.

Galway East TD, Colm Keaveney, says the survey results are worrying and reveal how farmers are being abandoned in the ‘urban-rural divide’.

“The dismantling of essential services in rural locations has irreversibly damaged the fabric of many communities in County Galway,” said Deputy Keaveney.

He added: “The closure of Garda stations, post offices and banks not only saw the removal of vital services, but also the loss of a vital social outlet for people living in remote or isolated areas.

Many farmers live on their own and may not meet other people unless they venture into their nearest village or town. For them, the threat of mental illness and suicide is heightened by loneliness and isolation.

“A series of crises within the agriculture sector has put more pressure on farmers, many of whom are already struggling to keep their businesses viable. The fodder crisis last year, combined with ongoing problems in the beef industry has seen many farmers dealing with complex financial situations, often on their own.”

Deputy Keaveney said Aware and Pieta House have made great advances in raising awareness about suicide and mental health issues buy, he said, “the Government is continuing to fail mental health services”.

“Many of the targets set in the Vision for Change programme have still not been met, and there is now a realisation that the strategy needs to be radically overhauled.

The budget for mental health services needs to be properly resourced and ring-fenced, rather than raided and spent in other areas, as has been the case over the past few years.

Minister Kathleen Lynch has a responsibility to fight to protect these essential supports, and it is only through sustained investment and increased access that we will be able to achieve meaningful reform of our mental health services,” added Deputy Keaveney.

Anyone feeling suicidal, depressed or troubled can contact the following lifelines anonymously: Console – 1800 201890, the Samaritans – 1850 609090, 1 Life on 1800 247100 or text HELP to 51444.

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run



A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda



Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway



Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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