Polish nationals seeking help say Yellow Ribbon

Plans are  being drawn up for Dohoyle Lake in Rathkeale
Plans are being drawn up for Dohoyle Lake in Rathkeale

Polish nationals are increasingly seeking help for depression, according to the Portadown charity, Yellow Ribbon.

The charity is also seeing a rise in the number of farmers calling its helpline, while cyber bullying and drug abuse are also giving cause for concern.

Dr Arthur Cassidy, of the charity, said it had seen a “significant” rise in the number of foreign nationals seeking help, with Polish women particularly vulnerable.

Three weeks ago, a Polish man was killed on the railway tracks at Lurgan. Leszek Pichalski (48), whose wife and son lived in Poland, was said to have become very down in recent months.

The Polish Consul Jerome Mullen said it was the eighth suicide in the Polish community he had dealt with in the past year.

Dr Cassidy is hoping to meet Mr Mullen soon to discuss the problem. He is also planning to work closer with the Polish community across Craigavon and is introducing a new course in September, specifically targeted at women.

He said, “Often, the women suffer a lack of language skills and that seems to threaten their identity, which can transform into chronic depression.

“What we find is that they work long hours and don’t see their family very often. Being separated from their loved ones in Poland is very difficult for them and they can feel isolated here.

“We want to build good relations between people who are born here and those who come to live here.”

Dr Cassidy, in association with the charity’s Polish psychiatric nurse, will be using ‘mindfulness’ training to help the women manage their stress and improve their mental well-being.

The women will also be taking part in English classes.

Four students from the University of Ulster, one a Polish national, will also be taking up a placement with the charity in September, two of whom will be working on developing the Polish women’s group.

A fashion show, which is being held next Friday night at Thomas Street Methodist Church, is raising money for the project. Tickets cost £6 and can be bought on the door. Shops taking part are Matalan, Nigel O’Hara Jewellers, Martin McQuillan Menswear, Sitara Morgan, Blue Lagoon and The Wardrobe.

Meanwhile, research carried out by Yellow Ribbon has revealed that cyber bullying is a growing problem, not just for adolescents but adults too, and the charity has set up a unit working on internet trolls and the internet threat.

He explained, “For young people, bullying often takes place because they are different. We want to let them know that it’s OK to be different. We are also collecting data and will be developing the research to look at adults.

“Some bullying of adults takes place over the internet and some is in the workplace. It’s usually psychological bullying, by emails or being ignored.”

The charity’s helpline has also taken more calls on its helpline in the past two months, with narcotic abuse quite significant among local people.

Dr Cassidy said that while mental health services such as the Bluestone Unit do a good job, often people can feel vulnerable after returning home.

He believes there needs to be a more co-ordinated approach by mental health charities to effectively help people.

Yellow Ribbon is also beginning to see problems within the farming community, with calls from 14 farmers in the past year.

Said Dr Cassidy, “Farmers are out on their own, working in the fields and it can be lonely. They also have the worry of huge vet bills, high running costs and the unpredictability of the weather, all of which are factors which can put them under severe stress.”“

Yellow Ribbon, which was established four years ago, receives no government or other statutory funding and is wholly dependent on donations from the public.

All its staff are volunteers and money raised goes on the upkeep of the building and utilities such as electricity and heating.

Said Dr Cassidy, “Moy Park put in the central heating system for us and they have also contributed very significantly to keeping us going. Other firms such as Ulster Carpets, Martin McQuillan, Nigel O’Hara’s and Thomas St Methodist Church, as well as the public, have been very supportive.”