Christy Bannon of SOSAD Laois accepting a donation raised by Miss Laois Alison Dyer.
A new community volunteer mental health counselling centre is shortly to open in Laois and one of the main drivers behind it is "absolutely delighted" that the county will now have free immediate supports for people.
Christy Bannon is Chairperson of SOSAD Laois, who will be opening their counselling centre in Portlaoise, offering expert help to anyone who is experiencing mental distress and suicidal thoughts.
"I'm absolutely delighted that finally we will have desperately needed services for the people of Laois. For too long we have been left to with no where for someone to go for help. Early intervention is what is needed for so many people, and without it problems can build and magnify over a long time.
"Countless times people have told me of occasions when they looked for help it wasn't there. Or else they were placed on long waiting lists. With SOSAD we will have free counselling, because mental health issues have no borders or financial barriers. The people of Laois deserve these services and need them even more.
"So many people have come together to try open a centre with SOSAD. Some are well known to have been working on it, others have given their time and efforts freely but don't wish to be known," Christy told the Leinster Express.
The local committee is:
Marie Tuohy - Treasurer, Anne Marie Allen - PRO, Una Doogue - Secretary, Christy Bannon - Chairperson.
Other members include John Hannify, Cllr Noel Tuohy and Martin Foran.
"Also special thanks have to go to Jimmy Hewitt who did a lot of work for us. Councillors Noel Tuohy, Padraig Fleming, Catherine Fitzgerald, Thomasina Connell and Charlie Flanagan TD who were there to open doors for us and give advice and funding," he said.
Christy has a really special word of thanks to a family who shared their grief after a suicide.
"Special thanks truly have to go to the McCarthy family of Stradbally. They agreed to an interview to explain their heartache and loss after the death of their beloved son and brother Keith. They told of their feelings and pain that are left behind after the loss of a loved one to suicide.
"They kindly agreed to a tough interview so that they might help others know, and understand the devastation that is left in its wake, and hopefully to let someone who needs to know that they are not on their own. So many others feel like you and go through that pain too, but that there is help there and to just reach out and make that call," Christy Bannon said.
Their close family friend Jimmy Hewitt has written a song for them after the death of Keith, performed by Keith's father Kevin and sister Shauna. Watch it below.
Read our full story about the new SOSAD Laois centre in the current Leinster Express newspaper.
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