Counsellor Sarah Barr from New Beginnings Moville shares a look at the supports available for people struggling with the stress of living in a Mica-affected home.

Having somewhere safe and warm to live is fundamental to our mental health and wellbeing. 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of psychology explaining human motivation based on the achievement of five different levels of needs. The theory states that we as humans are motivated to meet our needs. This begins with meeting our most basic needs before moving on to more advanced needs. The ultimate goal, according to this theory, is self-actualisation. However at the bottom of the pyramid are our basic human needs that we require for survival, such as food, shelter, water and sleep.

We spend hours in our homes and it should provide us with not only shelter but a secure, safe and positive environment supportive of every person in that home as their lives progress. A home can help shape relationships and strengthen bonds between family members. Anyone who is at risk of homelessness, are more likely to experience mental distress and mental health problems. Safe and secure housing is critical towards the prevention of mental health problems. Homelessness and poor quality housing are risk factors for mental health problems. 

Experiences of mental illness is different for everyone and mental health problems can occur at any point in our lives. For many people here in Donegal they are living in unsafe and poor quality housing due to mica. This is causing high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. It also exacerbates existing mental health conditions.]

Many people are living with the constant fear of losing their homes, becoming homeless, the fear of getting physically hurt, financial worries and fearing the mental and emotional impact it will have on their children. It is an unrelenting anxiety impacting on every part of daily life; eating, sleeping and relationships. A combination of poor sleep and changes in appetite can have a detrimental impact on motivation and general mood. This external factor is having a profound impact on people’s mental health and is the root cause for their anxiety and/or depression.

The fear of the unknown and the feeling of being trapped is constant when living with anxiety. Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. We all experience anxiety from time to time; it is often a normal response to stressful situations. When you are in a challenging situation, your body releases hormones, such as adrenaline, which cause physical reactions in your body. This is known as the ‘fight or flight response’, it is your body’s way of ensuring we are alert and can respond to danger.

Stress and anxiety are related, but there are differences to both of them. Everyone experiences both stress and anxiety in their life. However continued experiences of anxiety and stress can cause issues that affect us.

Some solutions to reduce stress/anxiety/depression:

•Medication (prescribed by a doctor). 

• Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT):  looks at the interactions between thoughts, feelings and behaviours and works to create differing responses.

• Mindfulness: a therapy that is more present focused and works to increase awareness of that present moment.

Some things you can do on your own:

• Journaling, sometimes getting the thoughts out help.

• Yoga, helps to relieve some of the physical manifestations of stress.

• Focus on slow deep breathing.

• Visualise calm, our anxious brain learns from experience, give it some calm moments

A list of supportive services:





• Local doctor. 

• for a list of qualified counsellors.