Rise in pandemic related mental health issues

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Crisis? There is likely to be an increase in mental health issues due to the Covid-19 pandemic / © Fernando  on Unsplash

A Merseyside mental health charity has warned we are only just starting to see the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since Christmas, New Brighton based mental health charity Mersey Counselling and Therapy Centre (MCTC) has seen a large influx of enquiries from people seeking help.

Clinical Director for the charity Angela O’Connor, said: “The effects of the pandemic are really being felt now, people were coping a bit at first and there was a wartime spirit about it, that’s gone now.

“People are tired, they have lost loved ones and been isolated and lonely.”

A survey by mental health charity YoungMinds found that the most recent lockdown has been especially difficult for 75% of young people aged 13-25. Reasons for this include a growing sense of isolation, loss of faith in their prospects for the future, freezing weather that disrupts basic routines and for those in school or university, the pressures of home learning.

MCTC works closely with school age children and recieved lottery funding in 2018 for a three-year project where they have visited schools to identify what support was needed. They now provide exercises such as reflective practise for staff, 1:1 counselling for children, 1:1 therapy for staff and multiple practises for parents too.

Following an ethos of ‘support when you need it not when you can afford it’, MCTC offer free counselling and therapy for those who require it.

However, other than the lottery funding Ms O’Connor reveals the charity hasn’t received any government support regardless of applying for it, and that “mental health charities in particular” are struggling to cater for and increase in enquiries through the pandemic.

She stresses the importance of teaching children from a young age how to cope with their mental health, and doesn’t understand why it isn’t on school curriculums.

She said: “Things like managing anxiety are so easy to teach youngsters and I think it would make a huge different if they learned very very young how to manage their anxiety and slow themselves down. Just very simple things, they’d have skills for life, so I think it’s absolutely vital.”

Ms O’Connor highlights these three building blocks for dealing with anxiety:

– Learn to breathe long, deep and slow.
– Go out for a brisk walk every day for about 45 minutes getting your heart rate up.
– Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet, not high in sugar as this can mimic the effects of anxiety and not drinking too much caffeine.

Talk Liverpool is a talking therapy service provided by the NHS who offer a range of different treatments for those struggling with their mental health.

Health care professional and manager within the NHS service, Joseph Moss, is aware of the difficulties those facing anxiety will struggle with after lockdown>>>

About Anna Michaelides, JMU Journalism