The Desperation of a Nation?

Over the past couple of weeks I couldn't help but wonder what is happening to the people of  this little nation of ours?

Not a day goes by, it seems, that we can't turn on our radios in the morning, or sleepily scroll down our twitter pages, without hearing some dreadful news. A stabbing here, a death by drug-overdose there or an accidental death somewhere else.

The most disturbing news of all was the deaths of two children, with both their mothers found in serious conditions nearby. Both incidents occurring mere weeks, yet miles, apart and while the full facts of both cases are not yet known, the mind boggles at how this can be.

What is happening here, in this little nation steeped in austerity measures, with approx 450,000 unemployed and no apparent end in sight?

A nation in economic recession and depression?

Or maybe that's the answer, right there and what we're seeing is the desperation of a nation?

I know that these occurrences are always evident in a society but they definitely increase in difficult times with increased burglaries, murders and suicides.

People and families surviving on Social Welfare, or the working poor who are being taxed to the hilt with more austere cuts and tax increases to follow.

And all to save our banks and to keep opportune and unsecured bondholders free from any risk whatsoever.

People are at risk though and they get desperate. And react accordingly.

Maybe they have no-one to turn to? There is most definitely a lack of services, that's for sure.

Recently we, as a nation, totally supported those with Disabilities who took to the streets to fight against the proposed cuts to their services. They were successful in this, despite some cock and bull from the Minister saying these cuts were never going to happen in the first place!

The savings that these-cuts-that-were-never-going-to-be would generate will now have to be found elsewhere in the health budget we're told, with the area of Mental Health being the most likely target.

 Perhaps that will also prove to be a figment of our collective imaginations, who knows?

But it makes sense doesn't it? Reducing the already poor Mental Health services in a country which seems to be struggling emotionally.

Mental Health services haven't changed much over the years, including the Celtic Tiger era when the funds were more likely to be available.

No-one should ever under-estimate how a person with mental illness will behave, no matter how sweet and gentle their normal personality can be. Especially when they are in crisis with no-one to help and no services to rely on.

Especially at the weekend.

And no-one should presume that you can just ring for an ambulance for a mentally ill patient and have them transported forthwith to the nearest hospital. Perhaps that might work for a heart attack or car-accident patient but not so for a psychiatric one. Referral from a GP and prior acceptance from the relevant hospital must be obtained first, if there's a bed available. You have no idea how long this process can take.

Especially at weekends.

There's no psychiatric equivalent of an  A & E you see and you'll find that the medically ill patient won't usually require a Garda escort either. Of course if the patient refuses to get into the ambulance then that's the end of that.

The patient should re-schedule their nervous breakdown for a more convenient time, thank you very much.

Preferably not on a weekend.

Perhaps the patient might be good enough to stall their mental breakdown until the next available community clinic, a week hence?

And if the mentally ill patient should also have the audacity to present with a co-morbid (most likely - but not always - psychiatrically related) then and only then, can you order an ambulance and get thee hence to the nearest acute hospital, which of course will not be co-located with a psychiatric one . There will be psychiatric services available though. Eventually.

As I've written before, I would rather have broken bones than a broken mind in this country.

Especially at weekends.

So, what can we do?

Over the weekend I noticed a little group of mothers in the facebook community I'm part of, banding together and sharing phone numbers. No one should ever feel they have no-one to talk to, they reason. There will always be someone online for them.

Especially at weekends, I hope.

We cannot manifest official full weekend services nor can we sprout 'pop-up' co-located hospitals overnight, but we can come together to help and keep an eye out for each other, online or in our local communities.

I thought that was such a positive and practical move by these fabulous facebook ladies.

Yet for some inexplicable reason it also made me feel a little sad.

Possibly because it's born out of necessity, a sense of if we don't help ourselves who will?

Not our Government and certainly not Angela Merkel who's of the illusion that Ireland 'is on a good path.'

However, Governments and delusional Troikas aside, we should try to collectively remain positive and restore our community values.

And mind ourselves.

Take care.


PS: Normal upbeat services will resume shortly!


  1. I have found myself in dark places this summer with thoughts of harm uppermost in my mind. Having come through two breakdowns, numerous episodes of self harm and para suicidal behaviour, I desperately hoped I wouldn't act out in any of these maladpative ways. I have had therapy and firmly believe the online support I received from the autism community has kept me 'safe'
    Realising that you are not alone, that others truly understand has helped me through the tougher times

  2. As someone all too familiar with depression, I can guarantee you that the dark places we go to are very frightening. Wonderful writing jazzy. Thank you so much XXX

  3. Excellent post Jazzy that raises awareness of a serious issue. Similar things are happening over here with mental health being seen as the cinderella of the NHS.

    Deb x

  4. @Anonymous: My heart goes out to you and you are very brave to so openly comment here. I thank you for that as your honesty may help others. I very much hope that it also helps you to be able to talk about these things. I heard a psychologist talking on Ray D'Arcy yesterday, I couldn't fit it in here but I thought it was a powerful statement to make to someone suffering and feeling suicidal: 'you are wonderful, there is nothing wrong with's just the way you're thinking that's a problem' or something along those lines.
    I am so glad that you got the help, both professionally and online, when you needed it and I hope you are in a good place now. Take care and keep reaching out when you need too.xx

    @Jean: Thank you for your honesty too Jean, here and on your own blog. I have no idea how awful and scary it must be for you but I do know how scary and helpless it can feel for a family member of a person suffering :-( Mental health support is crucial, for everyone in the family.

    @Deb: Thanks Deb. It saddens me to think it's happening in other countries too. Mental Health is ALWAYS the Cinderella, in good financial times and in bad.

    Thanks for your honest and supportive comments :-)

    xx Jazzy

  5. Jazzy, I didn't realise that it was so bad in your country. I am really sorry to hear that a first world country is severely lacking in many areas... outrageous.

  6. I was very upset for the children who lost their lives in the last couple of weeks and angry about the system that wasn't there for them and their families. I hate it that during the good years money was not put into so many vital services, mental health being one of them, and now the vulnerable are paying the ultimate price :( Great blog Jazzy xx

  7. @Bright Side of Life: It's shocking isn't it? Been severely lacking for MANY years. Some Psych hospitals based far away from main routes and acute hospitals and are AWFUL. Like St Ita's in Portrane for example. They have (or were to) close these hospitals down. We seriously need to co-locate close to acute hospitals too. The stories I could tell..... Did you know that a psych nurse (despite their general meds training) cannot insert a drip to re-hydrate a psych patient? They have to go take up a hospital bed in an acute hospital for that. Requiring an ambulance!

    @Looking for Blue Sky: I can't even bear to think about it. They're unnecessary tragedies. It seems that the HSE (our health authorities) were aware of one family at least and you'd have to be seriously worried when you hear that the mother in the second case is a GP. A GP who, it would seem (full facts not available) couldn't get the help she needed. Mental health is an issue for people with a background of psychiatric illness, for stressed out people like the unemployed and people under stress at home. Like Carers for example. So cutting services in Disabilites, for example and as you know, creates a problem for our Mental Health services. And our mental Health problems have been brushed under the carpet for years. great comment, thanks :-)

    Thank you for your comments here, on facebook and on twitter.

    Raising awareness is so important.

    xx Jazzy


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