TWO organisations have come together in London to raise awareness on mental health issues.
‘Darkness into Light’ is a Pieta House initiative and came to London for the first time this year, enlisting the help of the Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Pieta House is a Dublin-based suicide awareness and prevention charity which has run the event since 2009; while ICAP is a Britain-based organisation, with a particular focus on Irish immigrants, who experience higher rates of mental distress than most migrant communities.
Joan Freeman, CEO of Pieta House, presented a cheque for £5,000 to Catherine Hennessy, CEO of ICAP, after their collaboration earlier this year.
Darkness into Light is a charity fundraiser which is ran from 4am until dawn, symbolising the journey those who suffer from depression go through.
It has been up and running in Ireland for five years and this year marked the first time Pieta House took it overseas, with races ran in London and in Sydney, Joan Freeman explains.
“We had our first Darkness into Light, a 5k walk, in Cricklewood, and it came on the back of the ones that run across Ireland,” she said. “We had no presence in the UK so the best thing to do was support a local counselling agency, in particular one that looks after the Irish, and ICAP does that.”
Both organisations gave the event their all and the result was raising £10,000 of much-needed funds for both charities. Joan travelled over from Dublin to represent Pieta House in the presentation of the £5,000 ICAP share.
For Catherine, the opportunity to highlight the array of mental health issues that immigrants can experience was one not to pass up.
“ICAP provides counselling and therapy for the Irish community in Britain and last year we would have provided about 10,000 sessions,” she said. “We both share, as organisations, a commitment to mental wellbeing, so we’re delighted to be working with Pieta House.”
Mental health, both Joan and Catherine agree, is an issue that is only recently becoming socially acceptable in Ireland. Despite this, suicide figures are still quite high.
“I remember one time a local man from Offaly had gone to Galway and driven into the sea,” Catherine said. “The explanation given at the time was, being from Offaly, he would never have seen the sea before so wouldn’t have understood you could drown in water. There was such a taboo around suicide for a long time.”
The latest Samaritans report shows that in the Republic, the suicide rate for males is almost five times higher than that of females; while in Britain male rates are also significantly higher.
Darkness into Light has grown year on year and this year’s race in Ireland saw an unprecedented 80,000 people take to the streets. Here in Britain, 500 people took part in the Cricklewood walk.
To find out more about the services of these organisations, log on to pieta.ie or icap.org.uk.