CLARE’S Green Senator has shared her experience of trying to help a woman who was experiencing suicidal feelings during the lockdown earlier this year.
Speaking at the meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Senator Róisín Garvey said she was concerned for the woman, as well as the time it took to access emergency support services. She called for more detailed figures to be made available to members on the number of mental health issues Gardaí had responded to.
“There has been an increase in the number of people experiencing mental health crises because of Covid-19,” she native said. “I met a woman who was suicidal and after speaking to hear for an hour, I phoned the Gardaí. I rang one of those stations that we have spent a lot of money on. The Garda couldn’t come out for 40 minutes and after that, the woman was seen by a GP. I found the whole situation deeply disturbing.”
Senator Garvey said that while those who responded to her call did their best, they didn’t necessarily have the expertise needed in such situations.
“I do have to say that the Gardaí were brilliant and there was an excellent community Garda who came out,” she outlined. “We all know that GPs are great, but they’re not mental health experts either.”
Responding to Senator Garvey, the chief superintendent agreed that mental health problems had seemed to increase during the pandemic. “It has become an issue and it is a problem,” Chief Superintendent Seán Colleran said. “I agree that GPs are not mental health experts and that we aren’t either, but GPs make the deciding call. We can look at producing figures on the number of arrests.”
Senator Garvey said that having figures would help public representatives to support the Gardaí. “If we have the statistics, then we can lobby,” she said.
Chief Superintendent Colleran noted that not all of those who come to Garda attention due to mental health conditions are arrested and therefore are not represented in the available data.