As part of our strategic review in 2015 we identified County Kerry as an area which has unusually high risk indicators for youth self-harm and suicide. As a result we are opening an Education Resource Centre in High Street, Killarney which will provide specialist mental health awareness and recognition training for primary and secondary teachers from the county’s schools. The centre will also be organising workshops around Kerry for parents and anyone who would like to find out more about mental health awareness and particularly youth suicide prevention. The centre will also provide drop-in facilities and a counselling referral service for parents concerned about their children’s behaviour.
Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland is already working with secondary schools in County Kerry to raise awareness of the youth suicide crisis in Ireland and provide suicide prevention workshops for students through our Integrated School Visits Programme. The programme has been running since 2012. We visited around 130 secondary schools and provided classroom based awareness and prevention training face to face with about 18,000 students in 2015. So far in 2016 we have 146 new schools in our programme and we are heading for over 24,000 face to face student sessions.
Due to the increased levels of mental health awareness among students we have been repeatedly asked about providing a free youth crisis counselling service, either online or face to face, for students from Kerry schools who want to talk to a qualified counsellor. Most schools are unable to provide crisis counselling of this type for their students so we want to offer this free service from the Kerry Education Resource Centre as part of our programme here in the county. All our counsellors are fully trained, registered and Garda vetted.
YSPI don’t receive any state funding and we rely on the generosity of the public and businesses to support our work. It will cost us about €6,000 to fund the Kerry Education Resource Centre for 12 months. This includes rent, rates and utilities. The Kerry Education Resource Centre will be staffed by volunteers but the Centre will also provide a base for our highly trained Educational Facilitators as well as counsellors.
There are just so many young people in crisis at the moment so we are looking for support from local businesses to sponsor our Resource Centre for County Kerry. If 25 local Kerry businesses could make a donation of just €250, which would also qualify for tax relief, we would be fully funded and running before Christmas; and unfortunately Christmas is one of our busiest times of the year.
Please help us to continue to provide these vital service to students, teachers and parents in Kerry by donating even a small amount. Big or small, every donation is special to us and we will ensure that your local schools are aware of your support for the Kerry Education Resource Centre. All sponsors will receive a Donation Receipt for tax purposes.