The service is available locally in Donegal to provide counselling and support to any adult who has experienced abuse in childhood.
Since its establishment in 2000 the service has had approximately 200 referrals each year and at any one time around 60 to 70 clients are receiving counselling. The NCS also provides support and advice to parents, siblings and significant others who are affected by the disclosure of past abuse.
Individuals can refer themselves to the service by calling the freephone number 1800 234 119.
The HSE said it encourages clients to refer themselves as an act of independence and empowerment. Referrals are also accepted from GPs, Mental Health Service professionals and others who wish to have someone referred for counselling.
Tom McGrath, Director of Counselling with the NCS in the North West stated, “Referrals to the service in Donegal have increased by 50% since the launch of the information line on 27th July in response to the Michael Ferry conviction.
“The staff in the Donegal office have been very busy getting back to people who have called the freephone number and are arranging initial meetings for those who wish to be seen.
“Some callers do not want to attend for counselling right now but need advice and reassurance that the service will be there for them if and when they decide to engage. Attending for counselling can be a stressful and frightening prospect for many victims of historical abuse.
“Clients attending the NCS in Donegal can be assured of a professional, confidential and client centred service which respects the sensitivities of the issues involved.”
Mr McGrath continued: “The NCS staff understand the challenges and anxieties experienced by clients when seeking help for the first time. We would encourage individuals to come forward and I can reassure anyone thinking of contacting us that they will be dealt with in a caring and supportive way which is mindful of their needs for privacy and discretion.
“Our offices in Letterkenny are located in a discreet, accessible location in the town. As well as providing the service in Letterkenny for the past 10 years, we also hold weekly outreach clinics in Dungloe, Donegal Town and Buncrana for clients who wish to be seen locally”.
GPs in Donegal are aware of the HSE National Counselling Service and information leaflets on the NCS are circulated to GPs on a regular basis. Over 35% of referrals to the NCS come through GPs. Around 40% of referrals are from the HSE Mental Health Services and the remainder are self referrals and referrals from other agencies.
The NCS also sponsors an out of hours telephone counselling line CONNECT which is available from 6pm to 10pm Wednesday to Sunday on 1800 477 477.
For further information on the National Counselling Service in Donegal, please call 1800 234 119 between 9.15am and 5.15pm.Tags: