THE West Clare Mental Health Association, which operates the Lighthouse peer support centre in Kilrush, received almost €5,200 in funds raised from the Festival of Hope, which was organised by the Pastoral Council in Mullagh.
Peer Support Co-ordinator at the Lighthouse James Fennelly said, “Basically it was a virtual festival for a week before Christmas. There were various performers, musicians, entertainers and storytellers on for the whole week. Davy Fitz gave an interview one night, I think Marty Morrissey arranged a lot of the prizes for the raffle.
“We were nominated to be one of the beneficiaries of the funds raised. All of the funds were divided between ourselves and St Vincent De Paul.”
During the festival he spoke about mental health and the Association’s TALK campaign was launched on its last night. “It’s no secret that suicide has affected every community in West Clare, there’s no community unaffected. While we have a peer support centre, people who are in crisis tend not to be reaching out to anyone. Talk is an anacronym, T is for Tell someone how you are feeling or what you’re thinking, A is ask someone for their advice or support, L is let people help you and K is for know you will get through this and know that you matter.”
James added, “We want to get a message to people who are in crisis that they do matter, they will get through it, and talk to someone. Talk to someone. If any of your friends said to you that they were really in a bad place you’d stay with them and look after them until you got them someone more professional to speak to. It’s to encourage people to step back from the edge.”
Recently the group have distributed dozens of posters around West Clare as part of the campaign. “The hope is that someone in a dark place might see one, take a step back, the message might get through to them and they might pick up the phone to talk to someone.”
At present the organisation continues to offer peer support remotely, while it will be offering things like yoga, Tai Chi and mindfulness online in the coming months. Last year it engaged with a number of GAA clubs and companies and it hopes to resume this in the coming months.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.