Tuesday 23 January 2018

A tale of two Irelands, but one of them is pure fiction

Stress over debt can affect happiness, destroy relationships and cause untold harm to our children, says Carol Hunt

How must people living in the 22 per cent of jobless households (nearly double the level of the rest of the EU) feel?
How must people living in the 22 per cent of jobless households (nearly double the level of the rest of the EU) feel?
Carol Hunt

Carol Hunt

'It's just money," my husband often tells me when I'm stressed to the limit about yet another bill or mortgage demand that comes through the door. "It's not worth getting depressed about." But, as so many people in Ireland know to their cost, financial stress can ruin your happiness, destroy your marriage and cause untold harm to you and your children.

And yet the 21st Century buzzword is "happy". We're all searching for that elusive ideal; happiness. Psychologist Maureen Gaffney, in a new RTE programme called How to be Happy, gave us tips on how to focus on the positive. Which is all very well, but what if we can't see a positive? What if we're in a black hole of debt that no amount of mindfulness, good vibes or writing letters of gratitude can get us out of? Who do we turn to then?

"Suicide was a huge issue," said William Prior to News-talk's Ivan Yates last Wednesday morning. An auctioneer and farmer from Offaly, Prior was explaining why he set up the Phoenix Project, an organisation which offers free assistance and support to distressed borrowers (with professionals including counsellors), based in Portlaoise. "People felt they couldn't pay their mortgages," he said. "I questioned why people had taken their own lives – was it just because of debt?"

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