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New centre for child and teenage mental health services in Skibb

September 15th, 2021 3:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

Noreen Murphy and Mick Kearns of Lisheens House at their new building at North Street in Skibbereen. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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WEST Cork’s first independent child and adolescent mental health services centre is set to open in Skibbereen.

Suicide prevention charity Lisheens House has bought a three-storey building on North Street which they will renovate into a purpose-built centre for young people and their families.

Based in Skibbereen, Lisheens House has been offering free counselling throughout the region for people with mental health issues since it was set up 2015.

Run by Mick Kearns and Noreen Murphy, this new building will give young people and their families a dedicated space to get support, and will have three play therapists available, compared to the current one.

The purchase of the building was made possible thanks to a €140,000 loan from Clann Credo Community Loan Finance, and a fundraising campaign will also get underway to help cover costs.

Lisheens House doesn’t receive government funding and a primary source of income is their second hand furniture shops in Skibbereen and Clonakilty.

‘Thankfully, the shops are going well for us, so the logical next step for us was to get our own building,’ said Mick. ‘It’s been a real community effort, we’ve been supported by the public so now we’re handing this back to them. ‘This will be a lasting legacy of Lisheens House and will give reassurance to parents who would otherwise be facing long waiting lists to get access to qualified therapists for their children.’

The  plan is to get the building open as soon as possible and use the ground floor, while the upper floors will be renovated into child-friendly suites and family rooms. The aim is to have it all complete in 18 months’ time. Mick and Noreen said they had seen a marked increase in the number of young people reach out to them for help in the last 18 months, including one child as young as seven.

Their services were especially busy at the start of the year, with up to 30 calls some  weeks.

‘It was a tough enough time for adults, but lots of young people didn’t have the emotional intelligence to deal with it. School, sports, their whole worlds were taken away from them. In many cases the whole dynamic of the family changed, with people working from home, or being out of work.’

Noreen said: ‘We started our journey seven years ago and to be honest we never dreamed we would be in a position to purchase a building to house our services, as we did not receive one cent of State funding. But thanks to everyone who has supported our furniture shops and ran fundraisers for us, that dream has become a reality.’

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