thejournalCrippling waiting lists and stigma are still barriers to mental health care.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland have whittled over 200 entries for its annual funding down to a shortlist of 20, including Nurture and the Traveller Counselling Service.

Both movements are filling a gap for patients who may not have access to mental health care due to public waiting lists or other barriers to services

Irene Lowry, a counsellor from Rush in county Dublin, also spotted a gap in public health services which was creating a problem.

Waiting times for women with issues surrounding pregnancy and childbirth had hit nine months and she felt the personal devastation that came as a result.

She saw two young mothers die by suicide as they tried to battle post-natal depression.

It, understandably, had a profound effect on her, motivating her to take action.

She turned a section of her house into the centre for Nurture, a charity to provide affordable counselling to women with post-natal depression.

In three years, it has grown into an all-Ireland service with 19 counsellors in 14 counties. They offer support and counselling now for all aspects of conceiving, pregnancy and childbirth.

Lowry herself works an 80 hour week and takes a salary of just €12,000 a year. She is hoping that funding from SEI will allow her to pay volunteers to come in as more consistent staff.

“We have no waiting lists. A woman calls us in distress, we will see her within a week and for a lower fee than private practice.”
SEI will spend a number of days over the summer with McCann, Lowry and the other successful applicants to “refine and develop their potentially game-changing ideas”. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in November.

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