Appeal launched to tackle mental health crisis among homeless people
“When you’re homeless, you go around with a knot in your stomach all day. Physically it makes you feel very unwell but mentally, it takes a huge toll on you. It can be soul-destroying."
Homeless and addiction charity Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) has launched a public appeal to help tackle the "growing impact" that homelessness is having on mental health.
Every year, around 400 people who are homeless receive mental health care directly via the charity.
Its mental health team is reliant on public donations and is now seeking funds to safeguard its service as the homeless crisis continues to worsen.
An MQI statement cites statistics released in 2018 by the National Self-Harm Registry, noting that people who are homeless are 30 times more likely to self-harm in contrast to the general population.
“Homelessness is a traumatic experience," said Merchants Quay Ireland CEO Paula Byrne.
To lose your home, to find yourself on the street with so much uncertainty, it creates a huge amount of anxiety. The longer people are homeless, the greater that impact.
“The homeless crisis is leading to its own mental health crisis, yet often Merchants Quay Ireland is the only place for someone who is homeless and suffering poor mental health to access services.
"We want to secure and extend that service, because we know mental health crises don’t just happen during office hours.”
A client of MQI by the name of Denis shared his experience:
“When you’re homeless, you go around with a knot in your stomach all day," he said.
"Physically it makes you feel very unwell but mentally, it takes a huge toll on you. It can be soul-destroying.
“Mental health is massive, people don’t realise it. If I hadn’t had the mental health support I’ve received from Merchants Quay Ireland over the years, I’d be dead. It’s as simple as that.”
MQI deal with crisis interventions for mental health on a daily basis, managing situations where people may have self-harmed, are suicidal, or are experiencing a psychotic episode.
"The public sees people sleeping rough, or hear the latest homeless statistics, but so much of the pain that homelessness brings is unseen," says Zoe Dillon, Mental Health Nurse at Merchants Quay Ireland.
If you would like to donate to the appeal, please visit the official website.
Clip via Merchants Quay Ireland
See below for contact details for mental health services currently available in Ireland.
Pieta House 1800 247 247
Samaritans 116 123
Aware 1800 80 48 48
Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)