AROUND ONE PER cent of the population of Tallaght will have sought counselling by the end of this year. The area’s Village Counselling Service believes the rise in demand is due to the financial crisis, which is putting stress on already hard-pressed families.
The VCS will see around 1,000 new clients coming through their doors this year in an area that is rife with suicide and social difficulties. With a population of over 100,000 people in Tallaght, counsellors care for people ranging in all ages, from children to the elderly.
The VCS started up around eight years ago to help care for the mental health of the community because there was a lack of affordable, accessible mental health services at the time.
The low-cost service, which is part-funded by the HSE and Family Support Agency, relies on more than 140 trained voluntary counsellors. It means that clients only have to pay an average of €7 per session and this makes it more accessible to those who require help.
Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch will visit the VCS in Tallaght today. Just last month, the Minister dispelled any notion of further cuts to the mental health budget and she clarified that in Budget 2012 there was special provision for an additional €35 million for mental health. The money is to be used mostly to strengthen community mental health teams, to provide psychological and counselling services in the primary care setting for people with mental health problems and to fund additional activities on suicide prevention.