“Finding your feet in a new country can be extremely difficult. Emigrants can suffer from severe loneliness and depression, and it is important that the support they need is available” says Dan Neville, Fine Gael TD for Limerick and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology.
“Funding announced by Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, will go towards providing counselling and suicide prevention services to the Irish community in New York.
“Pieta House will receive a grant of €72,258 to extend to the US their crisis services for those considering suicide and self-harm. Pieta House will set up a pilot programme with the three main Irish centres in New York: the Aisling Center, the New York Irish Center and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.
“There will be a “Pieta Room” in all of these centres where the Irish in crisis in New York can come. The funding will also go towards training counsellors and providing counselling services.
“Recent studies and reviews have found that the mental health of the Irish abroad is a real issue. The undocumented are likely to have particular problems as they do not have the option of coming home. This can cause great strain psychologically as, although people don’t come home, there is comfort in the knowledge that the option is there.
“Pieta House has also announced that they are to work with the GAA to deliver the Mind Ur Buddy Programme; a peer support programme designed to help spot when a colleague or teammate may be in suicidal crisis. The GAA is at the heart of the Irish community at home and abroad so I am delighted that they are working to provide this service. Hopefully it will be rolled out in other locations across the world.
“Thankfully the flow of Irish people leaving the country has slowed to a drip in recent times as the economy recovers and jobs are created. There are even some people returning home. Nevertheless, no matter where you go in the world, you will meet someone Irish. We need to look after the Irish abroad and providing mental health support is extremely valuable and very worthwhile.”