Pieta House is a completely free, therapeutic service for those struggling with depression, self-harm or suicidal thoughts in Ireland.
We spoke with Pieta House CEO Brian J Higgins about Christmas being a lonely time for many, how you can help those struggling during the Christmas season, Aviva’s involvement with the organisation and different ways you can get involved with Pieta’s efforts.
Christmas is a time of year very much based upon spending time with loved ones. For this reason it is a period full of memories, both happy and ones that incite feelings of sadness and loss. Loss can come in various forms, be it through death, the breakdown of a relationship, or a big change in your life.
“There is a fine line between nostalgia and loss”
It can be quite distressing to feel sad or down during a time when there is so much cheer and happiness around you. If you are someone who struggles with mental health and feelings of sadness, it is a good idea to prepare yourself mentally for the Christmas season if you know that it usually makes you feel down.
To do this, you can try to plan different things you enjoy and spend lots of time with family and friends to keep your spirits up. If you don’t believe either of those options would be effective, you could potentially spend Christmas away. Often times, It can often be a certain place that has sad memories tied to it, so to get away can be a big help.
“If you know you’ll feel down at Christmas, try to prepare and mitigate against it”
If you think a friend or loved one is struggling this Christmas season, there are some simple steps you can take to help. Opening your home to them is a kind gesture that really goes a long way. Reach out, even if it’s just to mention that you’re there for the person if they need anything. This can also be very effective for those who have recently lost someone close to them.
“Be kind to them, that’s what Christmas is all about”
On the 26th November, Pieta House hosted their event ‘Misneach’. November is the month of remembrance, when we spend time thinking about those no longer with us. To go so quickly from this to December, the month of celebration and joy can be very difficult for some. Misneach is all about compassion and care, offering hope and a support system to anyone that attends. The event is designed to help attendees enter the Christmas season with as much hope and optimism as possible. Everyone is welcome to attend, be it to use the time for themselves or to offer support to others there.
“Misneach works as a safe space for people to think and reflect as much as they need before moving into the Christmas season”
If you would like to support Pieta House, there are plenty of events coming up in 2018 that you can partake in. Darkness into Light is Pieta’s flagship fundraising event; the money raised enables the organisation to continuously provide free counseling sessions for those in need of the support. Over 150,000 people took part worldwide last year, at 150 venues. Registration for 2018’s event opens in February.
Aviva have proudly partnered with Pieta House since December 2015, providing financial support and employee volunteering hours to support their work in the fight against suicide and self-harm in Ireland.
In 2017, 282 Aviva employees gave 1171 hours of volunteering work to the charity. This involved fundraising events, skill sharing and volunteering some of their time at Pieta House events and initiatives.
“Individual members of Aviva go above and beyond, of their own accord, to help Pieta House each year. The support starts at the highest level in Aviva and works from the top down through everybody. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you from all at Pieta House to everyone at Aviva for their ongoing support”
To learn about other way you can help Pieta House, click here. To read about our chat with Chief Clinical Officer at Pieta House, Cindy O’Connor about the importance of talking about suicide and self-harm, click here.