Coronavirus: Additional €1.1m funding for online mental health supports

Roll-out of online supports for groups such as healthcare workers and young people

Additional funding of €1.1 million has been allocated to provide online mental health support during the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Additional funding of €1.1 million has been allocated to provide online mental health support during the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

 

Additional funding of €1.1 million has been allocated to provide online mental health supports to people suffering from increased anxiety and stress during the coronavirus crisis.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the funding would help set up a range of additional online and telephone mental health supports for both frontline healthcare staff and the general public.

The additional services would include new online counselling supports for healthcare staff, frontline volunteers, and the members of the public, as well as online courses to help people learn to manage stress.

The funding would allow people currently accessing mental health services to avail of expanded telepsychiatry services during the lockdown, and also set up new online supports for Leaving Certificate students.

Commenting on Sunday, Mr Harris said the pandemic had caused “hurt, pain, tragedy for many people. It has also left many people feeling alone, isolated, anxious and stressed.”

SpunOut, a national youth organisation, has seen an increase of 44 per cent in young people contacting the organisation since the start of the public health crisis. The number of young people contacting the organisation due to anxiety and stress has increased by 100 per cent.

Alone, a charity supporting the elderly, said it has had nearly 16,000 calls to its national helpline, with loneliness the most common issue experienced by callers.

MyMind, who provide online counselling and psychotherapy, said it has seen a tenfold increase in the number of people seeking services, 20 per cent of who were seeking assistance with depression.

Anne O’Connor, HSE chief operations officer, said the health service was conscious “that bereaved families and our frontline staff have had a particularly challenging time.”

Additional counselling support is being introduced for frontline healthcare workers over the coming weeks, due to staff dealing with high numbers of deaths in facilities such as nursing homes. “We know that people are very very stressed working in those environments,” Ms O’Connor said.

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