We are all aware of the incredible work of Pieta House, and a large part of that is down to its founder, Joan Freeman. Having recently been appointed to the Seanad, Joan now has her sights set on pushing the incredible work of the organisation even further.


“I want to be a pain in the ass,” Joan joked of her latest appointment, to our sister-site, SHEmazing.


It’s a timely move for Joan, too. With Darkness into Light taking place nationwide this weekend, it’s the perfect time to shift the focus to improving child and adolescent mental health in Ireland.


She recently proposed Project 95, an initiative seeking to prohibit the admission of children into adult psychiatric wards. This would also offer solutions to any issues that may arise under the new legislation.


Speaking of the significance behind her proposal, Joan said: “Can you imagine how terrifying it must be for a distressed child to be admitted into an adult psychiatric unit? What a bleak picture of the future it must paint?”


Recalling one particularly concerning incident, she said: “I’ve spoken to a mother who had to sit with her 12-year-old son – a highly intelligent child – in a very distressed state in an A&E in Waterford Hospital.



“They were advised to travel to Cork to see a consultant child psychiatrist who was then unable to treat the child as he was outside the hospital catchment area.


“That child’s parents slept on either side of him that night. I mean, the lack of interest, the lack of care in this country, is just staggering.”


So far, Joan has been granted a Public Consultation Day, which will serve as the first step in the creation of a report due to be presented to the Seanad and the Government. This consultation will then facilitate a forum for those engaged with, and affected by the services.


Submissions to the Public Consultations Committee are welcome, with the closing date set for Friday, May 12. If you seek change in the area of children’s mental health in Ireland, then this is your chance to ensure your voice is heard.


For more information, simply follow this link. Alternatively, you can email Senator Freeman at joan.freeman@oir.ie or seanadpublicconsult@oireactas.ie.


Don’t forget, Pieta House’s Darkness into Light, supported by Electric Ireland, takes place on May 6 at 4:15am. Check out this link for more information.