Counselling service review

A Review of the Operation of the HSE Bereavement Counselling Service for Traumatic Deaths, in South East Community Healthcare - was completed by the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) in collaboration with the HSE Regional Suicide Resource Office (for counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford) and was funded by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP).

Bereavement by traumatic deaths – including suicide, homicide, murder-suicide and accidents – can significantly impact on an individual’s mental and physical health, increasing risk of depression, complicated grief and suicide. In addition, those who are bereaved by sudden, unnatural or violent death often report higher levels of perceived stigma, as well as other factors including trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), compared with those bereaved by natural causes. As a consequence, individuals bereaved by a traumatic death may require specialised supports, particularly those tailored to the nature of the death and the mental health conditions of the individual.

People bereaved by suicide - who will account for a large proportion of traumatic deaths - have been identified as a key priority group for suicide prevention in Connecting for Life, with specific actions to improve and standardise the availability of tailored supports in Ireland for those bereaved by suicide. Since 2006, the HSE Bereavement Counselling Service for Traumatic Deaths in Southeast Community Healthcare has provided counselling support to people bereaved by suicide and other sudden traumatic deaths mentioned above. This service facilitates health professionals to refer individuals, aged 16 years and over, to therapeutic counselling from trained Counsellors working in the healthcare area.

The findings from this review indicate that the service has a vital role in providing therapy for individuals bereaved by suicide and other forms of traumatic bereavement. The service works by utilising existing expertise and resources in the community, via qualified Counsellors. The model of service addresses two significant barriers in accessing supports, by providing a free service with a minimal waiting time to first appointment. Throughout the review, significant improvements in client outcomes were observed. Furthermore, the service was positively rated by key stakeholders, including healthcare professionals who refer clients to the service and Counsellors working with the service. The service also represents good value for money which is outlined fully in the review.

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