Mental Health Week

This week has been designated mental Health Week and World Mental Health Day falls on this Wednesday October 10th. It is very important for all of us to remember that in any community the mental health of its residents is a top priority. If there are individuals who are in any way subject to the various forms of mental illness then it is obvious that the earlier the problem is tackled the better chance there is of making a full recovery. There are of course in some cases, even in children, early signs of mental instability some of which is caused by certain conditions some of which are genetic in origin and which can only be diagnosed by medical experts in this particular field.  These would be in the category of mental deficiency, mental subnormality, mental retardation which were formerly used in relation to these affected people, children or adults, and which is now for the most part described as those with special needs. But what we are looking at here is children who were perfectly normal when they were born and who developed a mental health problem at a later age.  Whether this would be due to an acquired phobia or to some physical illness when they were young or to some other factor in their early environment would have to be investigated individually as everybody is different.

Mental illness can take many different forms, those who become withdrawn and can no longer take part in ordinary social activities to some who become over energetic and take major risks with their lives, showing off for instance how fast they can drive a car or take part in other high risk adventures.  There are others who sometime have developed an inferiority complex which puts them at a disadvantage in many ways.  Then of course there is the major problem of depression which if neglected in the early stages can develop and thereby very often lead to very serious consequences. Mental illness and depression can strike a person at any age, but generally young people in their teens and early twenties can be affected as those in this age category often appear to be the most vulnerable.  Persons of that age who show any symptoms of depression or unusual behaviour need close attention and treatment if that is necessary.  There are also some young people and indeed older as well who because of their unstable mental condition are easily led into taking part in vandalism , anti-social behaviour and petty crime or even more serious instances of law breaking. which lands them in court.  Unfortunately some Police Officers, Prosecuting Attorneys and even Judges do not always take the mental condition of a defendant into account when imposing a prison sentence on a defendant. A few years ago it was revealed that more than half the prisoners in a certain prison were afflicted with some form or another of mental sub normality or psychiatric illness. Quite obviously their place was in a psychiatric institution which would be far more beneficial to those concerned and their families and in the overall far less expensive to the State than having them incarcerated in an unsuitable prison. By all accounts, according to some media reports the ratio of prison officers in relation to the number of prisoners they are looking after is extremely high when compared to the ratio of staff to patients in psychiatric institutions where the figure is far lower. Even in my own time on the nursing staff of psychiatric hospitals in England it was not unusual for a nurse, student nurse or nursing assistant to be put in charge of a ward on night duty at the time in which there were 30, 50 or even more patients. Some new staff at Aston Hall Hospital including myself back in 1957 after working on day duty for a couple of months were then thrown in at the deep end and given charge of a ward on night duty with no worthwhile experience whatsoever and just a couple of visits from the night superintendent while we were having our tea and sandwiches. And yet we coped and the hospital kept functioning in spite of an acute shortage of qualified nurses in England at the time. But the point which one would like to make is why are there so many mentally ill patients 30%, 40% or even 50% of mentally ill patients being kept in prison when they ought to be accommodated in a psychiatric unit at a fraction of the cost.  It does not even make economic sense and a prison anyway is no place for a mentally ill patient.  When people develop a psychiatric condition of any kind or become depressed it is at this early stage that they need professional help and understanding by their families and relatives before the condition becomes chronic which if neglected first by the patients themselves and then by their families the risks can then become evident and tragic events can sometimes follow. But the worst part of this is that depression can sometimes go unnoticed until a tragedy of some kind happens.  Another very important factor in the treatment of depression or any other form of mental illness is to consult the right professional people when undergoing treatment who have the experience to tackle the problem.  Limerick Fine Gael TD Dan Neville drew attention to the risk of patients going to the wrong sources looking for a cure as under present legislation anybody can set themselves up as a mental health therapist or counsellor without any qualification whatsoever. As Dan Neville pointed out people who are concerned about their own or a relative’s mental health should stay clear of such bogus therapists, because this so called treatment is likely to do the person more harm than anything else. Such kind of chancers are often likely to charge a hefty fee for their so-called services which causes more stress and disappointment to patients and their families. There is no comparison however between these people and helpful friends and neighbours who often spend hours with mentally ill patients out of the goodness of their hearts trying to help and encourage them in any way they can. That is really what Mental Health Week and World Mental Day, Wednesday of this week, is all about, when everyone in their own way and as far as they are able will do their best to help all those who are distressed with an unfortunate mental condition, patients should be always encouraged to help themselves as far as possible in a kindly and gentle manner and not fobbed off by a dismissive casual unfeeling “pull yourself together” slogan. So let us celebrate World Mental Health Day in a true spirit of concern and consideration for those who are afflicted with mental illness of any kind and let us all hope and pray that they will find comfort and consolation in  their lives.

Death of Dan Murphy

The tragic death of Dan Murphy which occurred in Rathbeg, Rathmore the previous weekend in a car accident was very much regretted by his relations in West Limerick. He was a grandson of my first cousin Joan Murphy (nee Healy) formerly of Scartaglen Post Office. Other relatives in West Limerick include the Burke and Stokes family, Broadford including well-known footballer Jason Stokes, Vincent and Cathy Murphy, Askeaton, the Copse family, Abbeyfeale, the Roche family, Tullig, Templeglantine, Neilie Clifford, Ballyhahill. Dan was a prominent footballer and was aged 22.  Our sympathy is extended to his parents, family members and other relatives. ‘May his soul rest in peace’.

Rebels Blot out “Kingdom”

In what was a totally one sided game at Croke Park on Sunday Cork’s Lady Footballers completely overwhelmed the Kerry girls in the All-Ireland Senior Football Final.  While there was no goal scored by either side the Cork team dominated from the start and as the game entered the three quarter stage it became quite evident that for “The Kingdom” there was no way back. But fair play to Cork their girls were just brilliant. But overall it was an entertaining final played in a good friendly spirit.