Majella O’Donnell has hit out at Ireland’s mental health services, after her friend was denied immediate help despite being severely depressed.
The 56-year-old wife of Donegal crooner Daniel O’Donnell has previously opened up about her own battle with depression, and how she once considered taking her own life.
Taking to Facebook, Majella decided to use her voice and revealed how she felt “angry and disgusted” after her friend with mental health issues was told she wouldn’t be seen to until next year.
“My friend Anne is a young mother who has been feeling anxious, unmotivated, irritated and generally depressed. She is aware of it and has been on antidepressants in the past,” she wrote.
“She is also aware of the fact that it is negatively affecting her relationship with her partner and putting a huge strain on them. She wanted to get to the bottom of why she feels this way. She phoned a psychiatrist to see if she could talk to someone professional and was told that a) She would have to be referred by her GP; b) She wouldn’t be seen until at least February, and c) It would cost her €300 an hour for the psychiatrist.
“What the f*** is that all about? I get so bloody angry at this kind of thing. Here is a young woman realising that she has a problem and trying to do something positive about it and this is what the outcome is! She went back to her GP who once again prescribed antidepressants, a stronger one this time – and that’s it.
“She doesn’t really want to take them as she would like to understand why she feels the way she does but she feels she has no choice,” she said.
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Majella then hit out at the outrageous fees psychiatrists are charging patients, as her friend received a quote for €300 per hour.
“I can accept that a GP needs to refer you, but what really p***** me off is the fact that no one could see her until at least February – but that doesn’t really matter because she could never afford the €300 per hour fee that is being charged. €300 per hour! What the f*** is that all about? It is shameful.
“How dare anyone charge that kind of money to help another human being who is in a desperate situation. That sort of fee cannot be justified! We have wonderful support groups around the country – like Pieta House, Aware, Mental Health Ireland, Grow and lots more – doing their best to help people with their mental wellbeing, but when someone tries to help themselves before things have reached the point of no return, this is what happens.
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“We need, as a country, to sort this problem with accessing psychiatrists and if there is a shortage, then we need to actively start incentivising medical students to look at psychiatry as their speciality.
“Why do we have to wait until a person is so desperate for help that they are considering taking their own lives before we are willing to do something about it,’ she said.
“We need to start being pro-active about mental health instead of being reactive. There, that’s my rant over. I may be a little unreasonable about the whole subject, but it is one that I am so passionate about,” she added.