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Number of people seeking mental health support during lockdown doubles

Inspire Workplaces supports organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors in managing employee well-being through counselling sessions.

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The number seeking mental health support during the coronavirus lockdown has effectively doubled, John Conaghan said (Inspire Wellbeing/PA)

The number seeking mental health support during the coronavirus lockdown has effectively doubled, John Conaghan said (Inspire Wellbeing/PA)

The number seeking mental health support during the coronavirus lockdown has effectively doubled, John Conaghan said (Inspire Wellbeing/PA)

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

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

The 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.”

Physical distancing does not mean emotional distancing so it is important that people feel connected and supported through this isolation period.Kerry Anthony

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 well-being, suggesting people are looking for advice on how to manage it, as well as existing mental health conditions.”

The chief executive of Inspire, Kerry Anthony, said at this time of widespread social isolation the impact on mental health and well-being 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 well-being 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 Welfare Support Service in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, said the Inspire support hub was especially beneficial during the pandemic.

“The numerous and informative resources available, covering a wide range of issues, has been invaluable to the Northern Ireland Civil Service welfare team, who have been encouraging and guiding their clients to avail of the support available on a daily basis.

“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.”

PA