The St. Vincent de Paul Society fears the worst is yet to come as the recession continues to impact on all sections of our community.
The national council of the society has expressed great concern about the increasing depth and complexity of the problems facing people who are asking for its help.
The SVP is the biggest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland and has launched a joint initiative with the Irish Association of Suicidology to help members understand more about the effects the current social and economic crisis is causing in mental health problems.
This nationwide initiative is intended to help SVP members to identify problems and to be aware of mental health issues arising because of stress brought on by the financial problems people are experiencing.
The council, which is composed of the leaders of the society from all over the country, was recently told by its national president that those seeking assistance now came from all social classes.
They are being approached for help by people who had run their own small businesses, by people who never ever thought they would not have enough money to live on, and by migrants who are in desperate circumstances.
Research by the SVP has found 250,000 people did not have enough money, underlining how difficult things are.
It is a shocking situation that so many businesses are going to the wall and there is nothing for them to fall back on.
Moat families are cash-strapped and with Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies in the offing, it is going to be a difficult period for all concerned.
It is frightening to see once profitable concerns going out of business on a weekly basis.
The resources of the SVP are being seriously challenged by the unprecedented demands for financial assistance.
Thankfully, we are moving into the summer months and the need for fuel vouchers will, hopefully, diminish for the time being.
Those who can afford to contribute to the SVP coffers should do so as never have there been such need for financial handouts.
Unfortunately, the forecast is that things will get worse before we ride out the recession.
It appears the once well-off middle class is now the new poor in our society. Their plight is putting enormous pressure on the SVP with a realisation by the society of the impact on the mental health of those facing unemployment and/or financial ruin.
Let us hope our new government can instil some semblance of hope in the future of the country that will see a return to normality.