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Mental health charity's online hub inundated during lockdown

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Figures: John Conaghan

Figures: John Conaghan

Figures: John Conaghan

The number of people seeking mental health support during the coronavirus lockdown has effectively doubled, a local charity has said.

Inspire Workplaces supports organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors in managing employee wellbeing through counselling sessions and an online hub.

Group director of professional services at Inspire John Conaghan said: "The figures speak for themselves.

"We suspected that the numbers of people accessing the hub had increased but were surprised to learn that the figure had effectively doubled."

Since lockdown measures were announced in late March there have been more than 11,000 interactions with the organisation's online hub and an additional 1,700 new users.

Mr Conaghan added: "Clearly the current situation is having an impact on mental health and wellbeing, suggesting people are looking for advice on how to manage it, as well as existing mental health conditions."

Inspire chief executive Kerry Anthony said at this time of widespread social isolation the impact on people's mental health and wellbeing will be significant.

"Physical distancing does not mean emotional distancing, so it is important that people feel connected and supported through this isolation period. We also need to think about how we can plan for the longer-term recovery for people coming out of this crisis.

"Now more than ever, it is vital we support people through the wellbeing hub and our one-to-one counselling and collectively do all we can to encourage those in need to talk about their mental health and seek support."

Martin Toner, a manager at the Welfare Support Service in the Civil Service, said the Inspire support hub had been "invaluable" to the welfare team, who have been encouraging and guiding their clients to avail of the support available on a daily basis.

Mr Toner added: "The self-help and library resources for issues such as bereavement, an increase in alcohol consumption, sleep disturbance, anxiety and stress, have been of particular benefit and will continue to be for the foreseeable future."

Belfast Telegraph