Wicklow’s mental health: Online counselling services report 1,000% rise in calls
There has been an unprecedented burst in people seeking online mental health support in Wicklow since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, with stress over exams and loneliness being the main areas of concern.
One service for young people has seen nearly a 100% increase in calls to its service, while there has been a 1,000% explosion on the amount of the elderly looking for online counselling support.
Wicklow TD and Minister for Health Simon Harris confirmed the Government will provide an additional €1.1 million euro investment in online mental health supports.
The funding is aimed at the young, the old and the health services staff who they hope will assist them in managing their mental health during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Harris said: “The pandemic has cause hurt, pain, tragedy for many people. It has also left many people feeling alone, isolated, anxious and stressed. The additional funding announced today will allow us to increase our reach and help more people.
“We know also that our frontline staff need our help more than ever. Every day, they go to work and place themselves in harm’s way to protect us.
“The HSE has begun some work with staff helping them to manage stress, to take some rest and how to build resilience. In the past two weeks the site was accessed by 1,200 professionals. This funding will allow us to help more frontline staff.
“We know staying at home is difficult. This is why we have out together a range of supports through gov.ie/together to help you through these difficult times.
“But we also know many people will need greater help and that is why YourMentalHealth is there to offer you assistance and guidance at a time when people need it the most.
“This funding is an initial step but will allow us to offer some support when you need it the most.”
Minister Harris’ government colleague, Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan, outlined the huge demand for these services since the Covid-19 crisis began.
“Since this pandemic began, there has been an increase of 44% in contacts to SpunOut (the dedicated youth and young adult website and service),” he said.
“The numbers of people getting in touch due to anxiety and stress has increased by 100%.
“During this time over 50% of texters get in touch because they have no one else to talk to and almost half (48%) of texters get in touch because they want to talk to someone who didn’t know them.
“Almost 16,000 calls to Alone with 77% reporting they live alone. Loneliness is a common theme among callers. There has also been a tenfold growth in people seeking online counselling through MyMind. Of these, 35% are seeking support for anxiety and stress and up to 20% making appointments to seek assistance with depression,” Deputy Phelan added.