Colin Community Counselling, which provides services in Dunmurry and Old Warren, has reported a huge increase in demand for counselling over the past year.
A BACP accredited counselling service, dedicated to enabling people to manage their emotional health and wellbeing, it says that in the space of a year referrals have risen from 350 to 580.
Over 70% of its clients are female, it says, mainly in the 20-30 year-old age bracket, with almost half unemployed and a third having suicidal thoughts. The service has 13 counsellors who have delivered 5,448 sessions during the past year.
Counselling is available to anyone aged 11 and over, with specialised services for adults affected by the conflict in Northern Ireland and children aged 11-15.
A spokesperson said: “We enable clients to explore issues impacting on their lives and to discover ways of living more effectively.
“Counselling is an opportunity to talk in private with a professional counsellor about the issues affecting you in a non-judgmental, supportive relationship.
“The counsellor will work with you to help you find ways of managing those issues.
“The concept of wellbeing comprises two main elements - feeling good and functioning well.
“Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life.
“Equally important for wellbeing is our functioning in the world.
“Experiencing positive relationships, having some control over one’s life and having a sense of purpose are all important attributes of wellbeing.”
Colin Community Counselling Chairperson, Siobhan Graham, said: “We remain committed to delivering better and broader mental health outcomes for the public good.
“We remain committed to the people of the area and promise they will have access to a counselling service that supports their emotional health and wellbeing and contributes to enabling them to develop their full potential.
“In the coming months we will devise a new strategy, a new business plan and operational model, so that by 2020 we are delivering a high performing, fast-growing community based counselling service that stays true to our mission, that is - to provide an accessible counselling service in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust areas, a service that supports clients’ emotional health and wellbeing and contributes to enabling them to develop their full potential.”