New face-to-face free crisis service opens in Derry

A new, free mental health service for those in crisis has opened up at Derry’s Playhouse building.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 3:23 pm

PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland (PIPS Charity) have launched the brand new face to face mental health service for people experiencing mental health or emotional wellbeing difficulties.

People of all ages will be able to access support, free of charge, from the PIPS Counselling team based at The Playhouse in Derry City centre.

PIPS Counselling services aims to promote positive mental health and emotional wellbeing to support clients “to move from surviving to thriving”.

L-R: Martina Mcilkenny PIPS, Yvonne McGrory-Reader, PIPS, Mayor of Derry & Strabane Brian Tierney, Renee Quinn, Executive Director PIPS and Prof Siobhan O'Neill, Interim Mental Health Champion.

A spokesperson said: “We firmly believe there should be no financial or administrative barriers for clients to receive excellent mental health care. Because PIPS services can be accessed quickly, clients are likely to get better much more quickly and are less likely to develop serious difficulties or need more intensive and expensive mental health services later.

“The service has been operating in the Belfast area for nearly 20 years with excellent results and has always ensured that people receive the right support at the right time and don’t need to wait unnecessarily on long waiting lists. PIPS is a community based charity that supports and promotes positive mental health for anyone who has been affected by suicide or self-harm. PIPS services are for people who are experiencing depression, grief and loss, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anger, stress, suicidal ideation, self-harming or abuse issues. We also support children with their emotional and behavioural issues.

“PIPS Charity strives to combat the high levels of suicide throughout the various communities in Ireland by providing help and support to those families bereaved through a suicide or self-harm. Staff deliver suicide prevention and bereavement support services, 1 to 1 counselling, befriending services, advocacy support.

“The current coronavirus situation has increased the demand placed on emergency services and we believe that we can provide a prompt solution to address this and to ensure those in mental distress are able to easily access the help they need.”

Individuals can refer themselves into our services, you don’t need a GP or Hospital referral letter. PIPS Charity also provide a range of bespoke training programmes which raise awareness and provide individuals with intervention tools and knowledge on topics such as suicide prevention, self-harm, eating disorders, self-care and befriending. To date, these programmes have been delivered throughout Northern Ireland to a wide range of groups, including coaches, secondary school students, universities, charities, community activists and a range of private businesses.

“PIPS Charity believes that the people of Derry should receive mental health support at the time that they need it and PIPS works hard to remove the barriers to people receiving the support they need – like long waiting times or lack of information and guidance.”

Erin was able to get her life back on track following counselling sessions from PIPS Suicide Prevention Service.

She said: “You cannot put a price on a person’s life. There is nothing that PIPS will not do for you, they are breathing life into me, helping me breathe”.

Renée Quinn, Executive Director, PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland said: “Anyone can be affected by mental un-wellness and we have seen since Covid 19 the significant increase in demand for services. These new services are being piloted in the Enniskillen and Derry areas over the next year. This is a significant step forward in our work to help those most in need. We will be using this time to gauge the demand for face to face services in these areas and hopefully build towards longer term solutions. The services will focus on those clients in crisis, at risk of self-harm or suicide, or suffering other emotional challenges.

“ At PIPS Charity we strive to remove barriers to people accessing mental health services, by providing a Freephone telephone and with a clear single route for accessing specialist care, there is no need for a referral, just ring us up, services are free and clients can stay longer than six sessions.

“We all have a duty to ensure mental health is better understood and is known about, it is important for everyone to know that help is available; you can get better. Speak up and make that telephone call. I want mental health to be normalised so that children and adults can tell us when they are feeling mentally unwell, just like they would if they had a stomach upset or fever and receive the care they deserve, just as they would with a visible physical ailment.”

Kevin Murphy CEO at The Playhouse said: “If making art is said to be helping people express themselves without having to use words, we can’t cannot think of a more fitting partner to help people find those words too.

“The health and wellbeing of individuals and communities is a measure of how we function and thrive as a society. When people are given a voice, are made powerful, and a supported with positive physical and mental health, they connect to their surroundings, their built environment and each other.

“Our mission is to use art and creativity to strengthen the voice of vulnerable people and marginalised communities, to enrich the lives of the people that we serve.

“The equality of access to the essential services PIPS Charity offer does exactly this, offering help, promoting well-being and creating a space for social connection and exploration. In doing this, they help young people manage mental ill health and support recovery not just for individuals, but ultimately for our communities.”

For anyone wishing to book an appointment, please call 02871 224 133.