Monday, January 11, 2021

THERE has been a significant increase in the demand for mental health supports during the Covid-19 public health emergency, according to a new Family Resource Centre (FRC) survey.

According to the new National RFC Mental Health Promotion Project, which interviewed FRC staff and volunteers (with 85 respondents in total) during December:

* 94 per cent of respondents reported an increase in demand for mental health supports last year;

* The primary reason for service users making contact for support was due to feeling isolated, followed by anxiety about mental health;

* Some 99 per cent of respondents felt that Covid-19 has had a negative effect on the well-being of service users while

* 34 per cent of respondents used the Suicide Prevention Code of Practice last year to support service users.

“Covid-19 has had a damaging effect on mental health,” said Shauna Diamond, the FRC Mental Health Promotion Project’s National Programme Manager.

“The pandemic has led to the loss of loved ones, economic hardship, and feelings of increased isolation. Family Resource Centres across the country have witnessed this first-hand and have collectively felt a huge increase in the demand for mental health supports.

“However, the staff and volunteers at Family Resource Centres are highly trained and have provided much needed mental health supports to their communities during Covid-19. Staff and volunteers have developed innovative solutions to maintain service delivery during the pandemic by organising counselling sessions online, outdoor support and care packages for families and older members of the community, to name but a few.”

“An essential service”

Ms Diamond stated: “The survey findings clearly indicate that Family Resource Centres are an essential service in our communities in providing mental health supports and that their role has become even more vital during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

As for how the pandemic has impacted on FRC staff and volunteers, the survey revealed that 34 per cent of respondents reported their own well-being as being good or excellent in 2020, a marked decrease from 72 per cent in 2019. “The main factors negatively impacting well-being were the lack of ability to deliver services remotely and the increased demand for services,” according to the FRC statement.

But FRC staff and volunteers were proactive when it came to minding their own mental health with 60 per cent participating in training and well-being workshops. Meanwhile, 70 per cent said completing the Suicide Prevention Code of Practice Training to both assist them in their work with vulnerable service users.

Shauna Diamond stated: “This has been an exceptionally challenging period for Family Resource Centre staff and volunteers, but they have demonstrated their resilience and unwavering commitment to provide vital services in our communities.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Family Resource Centres and the staff and volunteers who deliver the services.”

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