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Disconnect between political will and will of people on mental health

As transition year students at St Wolstan’s Community School, Celbridge, we are writing this letter on behalf of our year group to express our view that mental health is the poor relation within our health system.

We have been awarded the amber flag by the voluntary organisation Suicide Aware for our promotion of mental health in our school community and it has come to our attention that there is a disconnect between the political will and the will of the ordinary citizens of this country.

If the turnout of over 120,000 people nationwide on the morning of Saturday, May 7, for the Darkness into Light walk is anything to go by, we think it is safe to say that the people of Ireland care about this issue.

Recently, a very powerful image was circulating on social media. This image illustrated the crowds at the Darkness into Light walk and the debate on mental health in Dáil Éireann, where only two TDs attended.

The 120,000 people who attended this walk voluntarily got up at 4am to walk 5km in what were cold, dark, and damp weather conditions.

Ordinary men, women, and children gave their hard-earned money to Pieta House and showed their support for this amazing charity.

Yet our high-flying Government members, who are well paid to represent us, for some unknown reason were unable to attend this debate, during daylight.

We believe that the Government is focused on the economic state of the country and not the mental health of the people who make the country work the way it does.

It took the country nearly two months to gain a working Government, and it seems to us that one of the many reasons that the parties took so long to come to an agreement was because they were debating water charges and the future of Irish Water.

They argued and debated about this topic because billions of euro may be wasted.

However, do we see this amount of focus and time being given to mental health?

In secondary schools in Ireland recently the guidance counsellors’ hours have been reallocated. We are grateful for this.

Now we may have access to the talking services which ensure well-being.

If the girls in our all-girls community school did not have counselling, we might not have our girls.

We urge that the voice of our young people be heard.

Aoife Kavanagh and Susan Bourke,
St Wolstan’s Community School
Celbridge
Co Kildare


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