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Congratulations to Emaior Hartnett

We are delighted to announce the winner
of this year's Liam McCarthy Scholarship as Emaior Hartnett from Cork.

Emaior is a full time mother of two, who heard about the Liam McCarthy Scholarship from a friend and did further research on the internet before applying. Hailing from Cork, Emaior has studied personal development, behavioural studies and aftercare. Emaior also has an interest in music, is a singer/songwriter and plays several instruments.

In her application Emaior stated “I would like to help people understand that it’s ok, not to be ok and that we can deal with everything, if willing. I would like to teach life skills and pass on the message of hope that I got….It would be an honour to get a chance to possibly be a counsellor/psychotherapist and help others, as I have been helped by wonderful people who have inspired me so much”

Emaior will be formally awarded the Scholarship during our Diploma Students Graduation Ceremony which takes place this year on the 11th of July in St. Ann's Church, Dublin.

"As always, Josephine Murphy and I were very impressed by the calibre of short-listed candidates for the Liam McCarthy Scholarship this year. It is a difficult task to pick a winner, but in the end Emaior Hartnett’s passion and dedication to her own personal development journey, as well as to helping others in a voluntary capacity, convinced us that we should award the 2014 prize to her. We know that she will make good use of the opportunity, and we wish her well in her studies." Eoin Stephens, PCI College President

The award itself is a tribute to a man who believed passionately in personal development, and he knew that continuing, adult education could be a central element in that development for many people. One of his visions was to open up third level education to a wider pool of mature students, who might not have otherwise seen themselves as getting a degree. Liam was also known for maintaining high academic standards, and he set that standard by his own example. He also believed in providing students with a broad education in what is after all a very broad field. The degree he designed, and which Middlesex University validated, is therefore characterised by an integrative approach to counselling & psychotherapy training, introducing students to all the main schools, as well as to important topics such as Abnormal Psychology, Loss & Grief, Substance Addictions.


Please read Emaior's essay below

Seeing a Counsellor/Psychotherapist should be as normal as seeing a Doctor or a Dentist.

In my opinion, taking care of our mental health should be as normal as taking care of our physical health. This is something I practise and prioritise in my life today. However, what is normal for me today is quite different to what was normal for me in the past.  Normal = ordinary, usual, according to a standard.  My own past experience brought me down a road of many mental, emotional, social, physical and spiritual challenges.  At that time, I had no self-awareness, no mental health education/awareness and very few life skills.   Alongside that, I carried a lot of fear and a lot of attitudes.  My behaviours and symptoms of my mental ill health at that time included depression, suicidal thoughts, addiction, relationship difficulties, co-dependency, anxiety, perfectionism, self-hatred, isolation..... Symptom = an outward sign indicating the presence of a disease/illness.  Behaviour = to act (in a certain way).  Let’s be honest, I wasn’t in a great place.  And certainly, going to see a doctor or a dentist wouldn’t have been a priority for me.  I really wasn’t sure what normal was, or what I should or shouldn’t do about helping myself.  My life had become extremely unmanageable and out of control and I certainly hit my “rock bottom” before I realised that I needed help outside of myself.  Fortunately, I completed an addiction programme at that time, which led me to other supportive links and mental health education and awareness.  Ironically enough, once I became mentally and emotionally well in myself, I started to practise going to my doctor and to my dentist and started taking better care of all other areas in my life.  I realise today the importance of balancing all areas – mental, emotional, social, physical and spiritual – as the key to a healthy lifestyle.  (When we know better, we do better).

“Mental health is a most important, maybe the most important public health issue, which even the poorest society must afford to promote, to protect and to invest in.” (World Health Organisation, 2003).

  • In Europe, one in five will develop a depressive episode during their lifetime.
  • Mental health problems account for up to 30% of consultations with a general practitioner in Europe.
  • Depression is a condition that shows a genuine increase.  It is also increasingly affecting adolescents.
  • In January 2007, the NOSP (National Office for Suicide Prevention) of the HSE (Health Service Executive) commissioned research on public attitudes to mental health among the Irish adult population, ultimately to inform a mental health awareness campaign.
  • Some of the key findings:
  • A reported 11% of people said they had personally experienced a mental health problem.
  • Samaritans and Aware are the best known organisations which help people with mental health problems.
  • 85% of people agree that “Anyone can experience a mental health problem”, but 62% would not want others knowing if they themselves had a mental health problem.
  • Talking is regarded as the most effective means of looking after your mental health – to friends, to family members, to people who have similar experiences and to counsellors or psychotherapists.
  • Suicide, alcoholism and depression are said to be the most important mental health related problems we need to tackle in Ireland.
  • For people who experience mental health problems, reported quality of life is significantly better, if the person has good levels of social contact.
  • 6 out of 10 adults do not believe that people with mental health problems should do important jobs, such as being a doctor or a nurse.

This research is encouraging, in that 85% of people interviewed agreed that “Anyone can experience a mental health problem”.  However, it also shows that stigma still exists in relation to mental health in Ireland. Stigma = a mark of disgrace. Stigma is like a mark that we put on someone who is judged to be suffering from mental illness.  It can be difficult to remove once it has become attached.  However, stigma can be tackled through education and understanding.  If “breakdown” and different forms of mental illness were better understood, we could have a society which is more accepting of it.  Mental ill health can be temporary and with good care a full recovery can be achieved.  An open, accepting and non-judgemental attitude will alleviate a great deal of suffering and facilitate better outcomes.  From my own experience, I am glad to be able to confirm that recovery and change is possible. Recovery is an ongoing journey....

“I measure my recovery not by how many problems I have, but how well I manage the problems I do have.” (Passages through Recovery, Terence T. Gorski)

We all have emotions (positive/negative) - that is our reality as a human race.  We need to accept this reality and learn to talk about them and deal with them.  If you are willing to accept this fact and stop fighting feelings/emotions, this will reduce suffering immensely. Unfortunately, in some cases, suicidal thoughts, self-harm behaviours, substance misuse and others, are often the action taken to help manage intolerably painful feelings/emotions.  Therefore, emotional regulation skills may be helpful in managing difficult and intense emotions.  For instance:
Reducing vulnerability
Treating physical illness, balanced eating, avoiding mood altering drugs, balancing sleep and getting exercise.

Building mastery
Doing things that make you feel good, in control, confident and capable.

Building positive experiences
Attending to relationships and “avoiding avoiding”.

Acting opposite to emotion
Doing the opposite to what you are feeling.  This literally sends a message to the brain stating that the old emotion is no longer appropriate, helping to shift to a less painful emotion.

(DBT Skills Training, Dr. Marsha D. Linehan)

Taking the first step to seeing a counsellor/psychotherapist can be a difficult and new experience for all of us.  However, in my opinion, it is the most important step in order for recovery to begin.  Let’s start making “seeing a counsellor/psychotherapist as normal as seeing a doctor or a dentist”.

“If mental health becomes more of an everyday issue that matters to us all, then the stigma attached to getting help can be reduced.  While Irish society will continue to experience considerable change and face new challenges ahead, a mentally healthier Irish society will be much better able to cope”. (HSE, Mental Health in Ireland, Report 2007)

Emaior Hartnett


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