Hope Trust have continued to offer counselling both in person and over 'zoom'. We are currently three counsellors involved in offering counselling, with a new student counsellor being offered some opportunities to complete her training as well. The need for counselling continues to grow, which we consider a positive, in that people are reaching out for help which is not only encouraging but it does also mean that some of the stigma around needing counselling is shifting as well. People who are stressed, traumatised or depressed so often withdraw at a time when they really need to be connecting. So we feel in some small way we are bridging the gap, by offering confidential sessions to those who feel they cannot communicate what they are feeling publically.
We are always encouraged when we hear of national initiatives to try and address mental health in Ireland. Whilst there are a collective of community events, non profit charities as well as larger organisations with national backing, it really does take a 'village' to address social issues at grass roots level. Reaching out to individuals who are struggling and providing support and a helping hand to those who are unable to find the strength to carry on. So we at Hope are delighted that Mental Health Ireland are once again launching the 'Hello how are you campaign?'. This is mobilising communities across the nation to really connect with others they might not normally meet, to check in, ask questions that people often try to avoid, but then really listen to the answers they are given. People need to know they are not alone. Hope Trust are hoping to mobilise a team to be involved in the community, to have a cuppa and chat on 30th March, in line with Mental Health Ireland.
A new initiative we have incorporated into the counselling room in Athlone is sandtray therapy for those who find it hard to talk about or verbalise what they are feeling. This method has helped a few in releasing some unconscious internal blocks. With all things new however, there is a mixed response to this. But for the adults who do choose it, there have been some encouraging results. The therapist engaging in this has received the relevant training and she is combining this new skill into her existing therapy. Her clients then have the choice when having sessions with her. We trust this new approach may help some who might have fallen through the net otherwise.
We trust that during this new season, as spring once again heralds its arrival, you will experience fresh vision and strength for the year ahead.
Following on the pandemic when we were globally affected by the impact of Covid 19; we are now experiencing further disruption to the peace and well-being of people through wars and the threat of war. Apart from the violence and death that brings, it necessitates many hundreds of people being displaced and trying to find a new start in a new country. Devastating for them but also difficult for the countries and people who welcome them in.
This truly is a challenge to help people maintain their mental health amidst all the shifts and uncertainty that modern life raises.
Provisional figures reported by NOSP (National Office for Suicide Prevention) for 2021 reflect a figure of 399 deaths, [however this does not include late submissions]. Of those reported the highest number for both men and women was in the 45-54 year age group. A time in life when many should be enjoying the satisfaction of having raised their families and being more stable in their work environments; sad that those figures don't necessarily reflect this.
We at Hope Trust, continue to believe that there is hope amidst all the darkness and that, with support, people can once again find purpose in life. One young man in the counselling room said that he had been crippled with anxiety and fear and mental turmoil, but that after only 4 sessions he was beginning to feel peace being restored. He asked that he would be allowed to continue in counselling because he found it so helpful to be able to talk about what was in his head. We, of course, were able to assure him that we would be there for as long as he needed us to be.
Another lady was shocked to discover that beneath all the anxiety and anger she had been experiencing she had been carrying some emotional scarring from her youth, that she had discounted and ignored previously. Coming to grips with and processing that, helped her to change her perspective on life.
Hope Trust organised a candlelit walk across the Shannon bridge in Athlone for the 6th time in support of all those who had lost loved ones to suicide. This was, once again, a very moving time and people from different church groups and the public, gathered to pray for those struggling and to demonstrate their willingness to support and care for the devastated. In a season where so many were focussing on death because of Halloween, we believe life is to be celebrated and encouraged.
We continue to look for opportunities to encourage people to meet in groups and form community where possible. We believe this is essential, alongside personal counselling, to address some of the isolation and concerns that weigh people down. Our hope is that, despite the uncertainties, the suicide rate continues to decrease and that people enjoy good mental health.
Together we can make a difference!
In April Hope Trust participated in a campaign by Mental Health Ireland to engage the public and try to provide opportunities to connect. To not rush by but to enquire 'how are you doing?', to help us to become more aware of how others are doing around us. We organised a dessert evening which was open to the public to enjoy free home made desserts and a chat. We had a very relaxed and enjoyable evening and it was a pleasure to join in a national effort to engage with others.
We hope that in the future there will be other initiatives that help our communities really reach out to one another. The temptation too often is to concentrate on ourselves, our families or our full agendas to really 'see' one another. Or else when we see someone struggling, we feel at the end of our own resources and unable to respond to their needs.
Anxiety, feeling overwhelmed or out of control are very common issues being addressed in our counselling rooms with people expressing a desire to escape in various ways. Our mission has been to unpack some of the uncertainty and connect clients with hope, purpose and to grieve the losses they have experienced. So many of our modern expectations have led us to believe we can control our destinies and so when we face wave after wave of interruptions, crisis, loss of income, lack of assurance of health and an uncertain future we become confused and shaken.
What does 'normal' look like in the 22nd century?
History seems to indicate that there are cycles or patterns that seem to be repeated over the centuries. 100 years ago Europe was trying to rebound from the devastation left after World War 1, but there have been countless devastating wars over the globe in the last 100 years which have left people traumatised, often displaced from 'home' and grappling to find a new normal and restore resilience to face tomorrow.
Learning how to maintain ones own mental health is paramount if we are to maintain any balance and have our resilience restored. Rest, peace, meditation, prayer, taking time to enjoy nature and each other, faith in God and hope are ingredients that have sustained many in the past and will again in the future.
We trust you find that inner peace that restores and fulfils.
God bless you
Spring is here in abundance, ushering in a fresh look at the work we are undertaking.
We continue to offer counselling both through online platforms and face to face. We have been re-equipping our counselling room with sandplay miniatures for those adults who respond to that form of therapy. Also with the continuing growth of displaced people globally and all the disruption, heartbreak and loss that brings, we at Hope Trust have been looking at where we could possibly lend more assistance and offer strategic help.
We have been exploring the possibility of running a pilot project into our local asylum seekers centre in the midlands of Ireland. Many of the residents arrive at the centre traumatised by previous experiences; they may have had to separate from family and loved ones and then have the added burden of culture shock as they try to acclimate to the Irish culture. The Irish are known for their hospitality and welcome, but resources are often spread very thinly as local authorities try to meet the growing demand for housing, help and assistance.
We are hoping to offer two bereavement support groups and 100 counselling hours over the next few months to the Lissywollen Centre in Westmeath. Whilst our services are available to the whole Athlone community at present, we want to trial an 'on site' service specific to adult residents at the centre. We realise this is a small beginning considering the size of the need nationally, but it is important to establish if our service would be trusted in their transitional situations. A small drop into a pool can have many ripple effects. So we hope this is a way of bringing some relief and healing to displaced people and help to build bridges within our community.
It is important that people know that there is hope!
Great news! The latest news report from the National Office for Suicide Prevention indicates that provisional figures for 2020 are the lowest for 2 decades at 340 deaths to suicide. Here at Hope Trust we are celebrating the reduction in numbers, but it is obviously tinged with sadness that there were still 340 people we have lost to suicide and 340 families grieving.
We have always counted it a privilege to be able to offer support and encouragement to those who are struggling with low mental health or suicidal ideation. This continues on in our counselling rooms in Athlone and Galway and over zoom. We have seen a number of new clients covering a lot of issues - anxiety, depression, trauma, adult survivors of abuse, family breakdown and suicide. Covid seems to have exacerbated many with minor conditions or pressured others into seeking counselling for the first time, due to all the uncertainty.
We have just this week completed another Bereavement Support Group in Galway where participants bonded together well and appreciated the process and opportunity to discuss issues that a few had not discussed previously with others. The aim of the group is firstly to offer support to those who maybe stuck or overwhelmed by their grief. Secondly to look at some of the issues that may arise during the process of mourning, normalising for some what may have felt irrational behaviour. Thirdly to help find positive ways of expressing big emotions, and to explore new ways of providing self care in the midst of their pain. Those participating applied themselves really well to all these concepts and we trust that they have felt supported through the process.
This year Hope Trust and a number of church members from different Athlone churches were able once again to carry our candles over the Shannon Bridge and walk into Athlone town. The aim of the walk is to bring light into the darkness and offer support and encouragement to those who are suffering after the loss of a loved one to suicide. This year we included those who have lost loved ones to Covid as well. Many struggling would not have had the opportunity to say goodbye, or be there to help or support loved ones in their last hours or days. We were grateful to have participation during the time of remembrance from young and old alike from 13 to 75 years of age. Many having come in previous years and very keen for the people in Athlone to know there are those in the community who care and want to be there in support.
We hope to continue to offer support during the coming year 2022 and we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a blessed and peaceful end of 2021. May you experience faith, hope and joy for the future!!
God bless you
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