Wednesday 22 January 2020

Joe at cutting edge of mental health in county for decades

Joe Casey and Tony Dempsey at the launch of Joe Casey’s book ‘Sixty Years at the Cutting Edge’ in Mernagh’s of Oylegate
Joe Casey and Tony Dempsey at the launch of Joe Casey’s book ‘Sixty Years at the Cutting Edge’ in Mernagh’s of Oylegate

Brendan Keane

A book launched recently in Mernagh's of Oylegate is based around the memoirs of a local resident and his involvement in promoting mental health awareness in Ireland.

Joe Casey, who is originally from Mullingar, launched his book, 'Sixty Years at the Cutting Edge', to raise money for Oylegate-Glenbrien GAA club.

Speaking to this newspaper about the book Mr Casey said: 'It's a general outline of some of the things I've been involved in, including GAA'.

However, the book offers up much more than that as Mr Casey is a former member of the National Mental Health Commission which helped formulate the Mental Health Act 2001.

His arrival in county Wexford in 1974 saw him take up the role of Chief Nursing officer in the county so his involvement in the area of mental health promotion and support has, as the book title implies, been 'at the cutting edge'.

When he arrived in Wexford he was also involved in setting up a non-profit company that was specifically aimed at promoting positive mental health and the need and importance of social housing.

In particular, a focus of attention for the group was to have adequate social housing for patients in St Senan's Hospital.

'We set up 20 houses initially in the county and we also got involved with Respond,' said Mr Casey.

'A lot of change happened in the 60s and 70s in Ireland and around that time there was around 24,000 people in mental hospitals all over the country,' he said.

'Most of those hospitals are now closed down and I was involved in that at national level,' he added.

Mr Casey's book also focuses attention on his involvement with GAA.

'I used to play football in Mullingar and we had some level of success but I've always loved the GAA,' he said.

'It plays such an important role in communities all over the country and promotes physical and mental health,' he added.

Mr Casey highlighted how involvement with such an organisation can boost people's confidence and self-esteem.

The book presents snapshots of Mr Casey's personal and professional life over the last 60 years and his decision to donate all of the proceeds to his local GAA club in Oylegate was borne out of his love for the organisation and his awareness of what it does for the wellbeing of thousands of people throughout Ireland.

The book is currently on sale locally and is available from Pat Murphy at 087 2206305,from Mernagh's Lounge, in Oylegate, or from any Oylegate GAA club committee member.

Enniscorthy Guardian