Counselling is one of the ways we can connect with people before they reach crisis – O’Neill

Date published: 08 December 2016

One of the best ways of keeping people from reaching crisis point is to equip them with the skills to cope with life’s more difficult challenges such as relationship break up, bereavement, redundancy, exam pressure, and so forth.

Michelle O'Neill addresses Lenadoon Counselling Service
Michelle O'Neill addresses Lenadoon Counselling Service

That was the key message from Health Minister Michelle O’Neill as she visited the newly refurbished Lenadoon Community Counselling Service in west Belfast.

Established in 1998, Lenadoon Community Counselling provides counselling services to young people and adults aged from 14 years old. Counselling is by appointment and takes place after an initial assessment is carried out by a counsellor.

The Minister said: “We must bear in mind why services such as those provided by Lenadoon Community Counselling are so vital.

“The fact is that there are too many tragic deaths by suicide in this area and in the north of Ireland as a whole.

“Many more people die by suicide here per year than die in road traffic accidents. Each loss leaves behind grieving families and friends. All sudden deaths are difficult to come to terms with, but bereavement through suicide is particularly traumatic.

“In the north of Ireland, the suicide rate in the 20 percent most deprived areas is three times higher than in the 20 percent least deprived areas. The association between suicide and deprivation is very clear.  That is why it is so important to have the necessary services located in the areas where people are most in need of them.”

Lorraine Morrisey-McCann, Coordinator of the Lenadoon Community Counselling Service added: “We are delighted the Minister is championing mental health and that she has been here today to celebrate the work that we do and our newly refurbished facilities.

“We have been providing professional, community led, high quality counselling and psychological therapies for local people for many years now.  We pride ourselves in working in partnership with our clients, with other local community services and with our funders to achieve the best possible outcomes and we present excellent value for money in the process.  All our resources are focussed on the ‘frontline’ because we want to support as many people as possible.  Going forward, we want to build on our alliances always mindful that local people are front and centre to what we do.”   

The Minister concluded: “We all have times in our lives when we feel like we can’t cope. You might think that things are not going to get better and that no-one else has ever experienced what you are going through. If you are feeling like this, you should know that you are not alone. Talking can help so speak to a friend, family member, your GP or a counsellor and get the help and advice you need.” 

Notes to editors: 

1. Sessions offered by Lenadoon Community Counselling are dependent upon the individual’s needs but generally take place in blocks of 6-8 sessions. Individuals can refer themselves or can consent to third party referral. The service operates Monday to Thursday from 9.30am to 9pm and Friday from 9.30am to 3pm.

2. The organisation operates a Weekend Crisis Suicide Intervention Service on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. No prior appointment is necessary for this service; individuals can ‘walk-in’ between the hours of 12pm and 4pm.

3. In addition, telephone support is provided between 10am and 4pm. The crisis intervention support and telephone support are brief intervention services designed to complement counselling and therapy.  They can be useful for anyone deemed ‘active risk’ whilst waiting for counselling to commence or for those individuals who require additional short support during weekends.

4. For media enquiries please contact the DOH Press Office on 028 90 520505 or email: For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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