Working life: Claire Healy, volunteer

Claire Healy is a volunteer with Carlow Mental Health Association.


I believe in starting the day well so I make sure to eat a healthy breakfast before taking the dog for a walk. I completed the Dublin City Marathon a few weeks ago and have the medal to prove it, but now the pressure is off, the pace is more relaxed.


I meet with Carlow Suicide Prevention group. We meet regularly to discuss the local implementation of Connecting for Life, Ireland’s national strategy to reduce suicide. We are trying at community level to create a positive attitude towards mental health. Research shows one-in -four people will use a mental health service at some stage and there is a strong link between mental health difficulties and death by suicide.


I drop into Carlow Men’s Shed with a sample Christmas decoration because they’ve agreed to produce 200 of them for us to distribute at our annual carol-singing on December 10. The men are always working on something and the concept of the Men’s Shed is a welcome one.

It’s essentially a larger version of the typical man’s garden shed — a place where he feels at home and able to pursue practical interests. At the Men’s Sheds, they work on projects of their own choosing. It’s a clever approach to bringing men together and reducing social isolation for both retired members of the community and the unemployed.


After lunch I man the Carlow Mental Health Association telephone information service where we signpost callers to relevant services such as GROW or Follaine counselling services. The latter provides confidential early intervention for young people aged 13-18 to help them come to terms with problems in their lives.


I work in a private capacity as a reflexologist. A couple of days a week, I am based at the Éist cancer support centre in Carlow town. Reflexology is a deeply relaxing experience and ideal for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy. There are no side-effects and no danger of interaction with any medication.


I head home. In the evenings I like to walk or read, or I may have a meeting with Carlow Mental Health Committee. I set up a stand occasionally at events designed to promote positive mental health, such as at a school in Hackettstown where Operation Transformation psychologist Eddie Murphy recently gave a talk to teenagers.

Claire Healy, volunteer, Carlow Mental Health Association


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