Stacey Dineen has shared her own mental health struggles and urges people suffering to seek help
A YOUNG Limerick woman is attempting to broadcast a message of hope and support to those challenged by their mental health in light of the recent spate of suicides in the city.
Twenty-one-year old model Stacey Dineen, who has had both national and international success in her career, is also demanding that the government make immediate improvements to the country’s mental health system.
The Knocklong native has suffered from depression in the past, and believes in the power of openly sharing her battle with her mental health in helping others.
“Limerick is a beautiful city but something is very, very wrong,” she told the Limerick Leader, “for a while now it seems as though a storm is hovering over Limerick.
“It just reminds me of how much the mental health system failed me and how I almost didn’t make it out alive,” said Stacey, who revealed she attempted to take her life on multiple occasions.
Stacey described how when she sought professional help for her struggle that “all they ever seemed to do was sit me down, offer me pills and rush me out the door”.
“I remember wanting to go to hospital multiple times while having a breakdown, convinced I wasn’t going to make it through the night but it was pointless calling them because they have no room as it is,” she said, adding how she felt “hopeless” at the time.
It is this same feeling that has returned as a result of recent incidents in the city involving young people taking their lives.
“It seems now that every time I log into Facebook, depression claims another life,” she said. “I see more posts about people mourning their friends than I do regular posts and it’s absolutely heartbreaking.
“What’s going so wrong in this country? Why are so many beautiful lives lost because of mental health?
“I personally feel like our government needs to wake up and do more about mental health. It should be a priority at this stage,” she added.
Since leaving school aged 17, Stacey has worked towards developing her modelling career while simultaneously striving to improve her mental health.
“Depression isn’t a temporary thing,” she said, “it’s always going to be there. It’s all about coping and not letting it take over. It’s very much like a deep cut. Once it’s there it hurts, but when you take care of it soon it starts to heal, it’s still sore and still there but over time it gets better.
“The scar will remain but it won’t be a big deal because you have complete control over it once you learn how to cope with it and live the life you deserve.
“For me it took years, multiple failed suicide attempts, weeks of not talking to any friends. It was torture but I am so so grateful I was part of the lucky few that made it,” she added, “it was a big wake up call for me.”
Stacey described how the signs of deteriorating mental health aren’t always easy to spot: “People also need to understand that when you do suffer with depression and are experiencing suicidal thoughts it’s very hard to talk to someone about it, often we hide it behind a fake smile.
“Check in on your happy friends, give them a hug, watch out for change in behaviour such as lack of interest, weight changes, sleep changes, loss of energy, irritability.
“Time is so, so essential when you’re dealing with depression,” Stacey added, “you are more than your mental illness, you are important, you are loved and you can make an impact.
“Let your voice be heard. Reach out. Be the change we need to see.”
If you have been affected by this story, there are a number of helpful services you can contact:
Samaritans — 116 123 (free) / 087 2609090 (text)
Pieta House — 061 484 444 / 1800 247 247 (free)
Childline — 1800 666 666 (free) / Talk 50101 (free text)
Aware Helpline — 1800 804 848 (free)
Teenline — 1800 833 634 (free)
Grow — 1890 474 474
Living Links — 087 799 8427
Shannondoc — (or any GP) 1850 212 999
Emergency services — 112 or 999