17 May 2022

Open day at new Laois SOSAD mental health centre

Open day at new Laois SOSAD mental health centre

Volunteers Irina Volia and Helena Kavani with Carol Murphy, general manager SOSAD Ireland and Grace Ennis, Laois SOSAD co-ordinator.

A new community run free mental health counselling centre officially opened in Laois this week.

SOSAD Laois opened their doors for an Open Day on Friday, April 22, at Shamrock House on the Abbeyleix Road.

The centre offers free professional counselling sessions to anyone in need, and is funded by donations raised in Laois, with all that money promised to be used in the Laois branch, one of seven around Ireland.

It is not quite a 'drop-in' centre yet but sessions can be given within hours for emergency cases, Co-ordinator Grace Ennis told the Leinster Express on the open day.

"We had a wonderful turnout today, it was a chance for people to come down, see the services we offer, and to volunteer if they are interested. We offer one to one counselling, and we hope to get bereavement group up and running this year. We are open since last April and this office opened in October. It's going really well. People are starting to learn what we offer, what we can do.

"We have a 24 seven phone line and a freefone number, if people ring in crisis, some counsellor will make time to come in and meet them. I really think it's reaching people. Our volunteers are spreading the word," she said.

Carol Murphy, General Manager of SOSAD Ireland was at the open day.

"We have two therapy rooms here, an office and a kitchen and a lovely garden at the back, a private green space where people can do some walk and talk therapy or sit and enjoy the calm, it's a therapy on its own. 

"It's going really well here. I think the people of Laois appreciate the fact that this is a local service, community based where we can be really responsive and much faster than state services. We don't have a waiting list. People in crisis can be seen in a matter of hours. Our 24 hour line helps day and night with somebody who is trained on the phone. We also have a web based messaging serivce, sometimes people like to speak anonymously," she said.

She said that SOSAD is particularly aware of high suicide rates in younger people especially young men.

"We have a young people's project for ages 16 upwards, which gives peer group support. Sometimes people don't want to do one to one and feel more comfortable with peers. One type of services doesn't fit everybody," Carol said.

On the open day, the Ukraine refugee community visited to take part in yoga, rockpainting and mindfulness sessions, by volunteer and Russian speaker Irina Volia.

"They have anxiety so it was great for them to relax and come together. They really do feel that the community is helping them. It helped them to deal with the stress of being in a very bad situation, without their husbands or families. Thank you to SOSAD for organising this opportunity for Ukrainians," she said.

Irina also thanked Laois Partnership who are organising many more events for Ukraine refugees in the county.

Call SOSAD Laois on 083-0291706.  email: laoisoffice@  or ring the 24 hour SOSAD line on 1800 901 909

SOSAD also offer a support line in the Russian language on 087 397 1152.

Below: Volunteer accredited counsellor Emily Dunne from Camross with Fiona Murphy from Portlaoise, office volunteer and trainee mindfulness teacher at SOSAD Laois.

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