An online counseling service for the Irish diaspora is officially launching today, coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day.
Cabhrú (the Irish for helping) is a new service offered by Irish organization Helpline Support Services and will provide free or low-cost Skype counseling services with an Irish professional to the Irish living abroad. Helpline is a non-profit organization which has been providing phone and online counselling to clients in Ireland for the past five years.
Although only available for Irish living in Australia to begin with--past research has shown that Irish in Australia suffering with home sickness and mental health issues are the least likely to get in touch with local support services--there are plans to extend the service to other countries with large Irish populations in the future, including the US, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada, as well as plans to extend the service to seven days a week.
According to a 2014 report published by the Clinton Institute at University College Dublin, Irish ex-pats are less likely to seek help regarding emotional and psychological strains, with those living in Australia seen as the community to be most concerned about.
“Perhaps more than physical health concerns, mental health issues are becoming more pressing with the Irish community in Australia,” the report read.
“As the burden of migration – loneliness, isolation, lack of networked support – can be a significant factor among migrants, it is crucial that these issues be recognised overseas…and recognised as …the nexus of the migrant relationship with the host country and with home."
As seen on IrishCentral yesterday, the support system needed by the Irish in the US has already been identified by Pieta House founder Joan Freeman, who opened a New York branch of the suicide prevention program in New York in September 2015.
“Along with the Pieta House team, which brought what is an amazing service to New York, we want to get people all across America talking, and give those in need the courage to seek help,” Freeman wrote.
“Pieta House will work to remove the stigma of emotional crisis and offer its services to thousands of people who will witness compassion, kindness and Irish hospitality as only the Irish know how.”
The new service Cabhrú will now make counselors available between 8am and midday (Irish time), Wednesday through Friday so as to be on call during Australian evenings. The counselors can deal with a large range of issues including bullying, depression, loneliness, lack of familial support structure, transitional stress and anxiety, displacement, self-esteem and addiction issues, among other issues.
Clients will initially be able to avail of six free Skype appointments with a qualified Irish counselor and Helpline plans to begin an “emotional support” helpline for Irish emigrants in the future.
For more information on the counselling available via HelpLink.ie and Cabhrú, you can read it here, or to make an appointment with Cabhrú, simply email [email protected] with the word 'Cabhrú' in the subject line.
Cabhrú is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and supported by the GAA and Crosscare Migrant Project.
For Irish based in New York who are suffering from any distress, or who know someone who needs support, the New York branch of Pieta House offers confidential, free help from their base in the Irish Center, Long Island City, Queens. They can be can contacted at (718)482-0001.
Callers do not need health insurance, a doctor’s note, or any referral.
More at www.pietahouse.org