Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has launched a mental health and wellbeing initiative aimed at supporting the diverse mental health needs of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This campaign, developed by the Department of Health and HSE, in collaboration with a range of cross-Government partners, will offer support and resources to help deal with the stress, anxiety and isolation currently experienced by many in Ireland. A new online resource at gov.ie/together will offer advice to help people cope at home and will promote the mental health supports and resources available on the HSE’s YourMentalHealth.ie.
Research undertaken on the behalf of the Department of Health by Amarach has shown that the outbreak of COVID-19 has led to significant impact on Irish people’s mental health and wellbeing. This research shows that: Isolation is likely to cause distress and mental health problems; Overall level of worry is being scored consistently at almost 7/10; Four out of five people are worried about their friends and family, and almost as many are worried about the economy; One-third of people are worried/believe they will get the virus.
The HSE’s YourMentalHealth.ie provides a one-stop shop portal for people seeking information, supports and services – including information on accessing urgent help. A mental health text messaging service is available 24/7 to connect people with trained volunteers.
The new ‘Together’ campaign will also provide tips and advice for people on topics such as physical activity, parenting, coping with daily routines, creative activities, supporting people who are cocooning, and getting involved in the community solidarity efforts under the Government’s Community Call.
The Amarach research also shows that people are aware of the importance of maintaining resilience, and people are remaining engaged with loved ones and hobbies. Sixty-seven per cent of people are actively trying to keep in touch with friends and family by phone/online and 72 per cent contacting older relatives to check on them
Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD said: “The outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the world is a source of significant stress, anxiety, worry and fear for many of us. I know that the current restrictions on people’s daily lives are hard, but there are ways we can support each other through these difficult days. That’s where Gov.ie/Together and YourMentalHealth.ie come in to help, offering a range of supports for the mental health and wellbeing needs in the population. No matter what you’re going through in isolation, let’s stay connected and make it through, together.
“The HSE and partner organisations already offer a number of supports and services through online, telephone and text, including online counselling, and are developing a plan to expand these as needed over the coming weeks and months. I would strongly encourage anyone who needs support for their mental health difficulties to seek out the help you need, and please get in touch with your GP or mental health service if you need their help during this time. I also welcome the work by the HSE to provide information and supports for the healthcare workforce, many of whom are dealing with stressful situations on a daily basis.”
Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, TD said: “I understand the worry and anxiety that many people will be feeling at this time, and that maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing is so important while we wait for the emergency to pass.”
“Since taking up the post of Minister for Mental Health in 2017 the government has invested heavily in the rollout of online and digital therapies, which will now, more than ever, play a crucial role in delivering services to clinical settings and services users remotely. The Department and the HSE are working for extremely hard to provide additional interventions to support mental wellbeing, including more specialised supports,during the COVID-19 outbreak. I commend the work of the Department and the HSE as they work together to address emerging mental health needs of the population at this time.”
Dr Siobhan Ni Bhriain, Consultant Psychiatrist and HSE Integrated Care Lead, added: “Now more than ever it’s vital for us all to pay extra attention to our mental health. These are challenging times for everyone in our society and we need to be aware of the stress or uncertainty that comes with that. Keeping connected to others is very important but some of us may need a bit more support during this time – especially those that are already using mental health services.”
“We want to remind anyone feeling vulnerable that our mental health services are still available. We encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out and avail of them. Your GP can refer you to services or there is also a range of additional online and phone supports, provided by the HSE and our partners that can be found on YourMentalHealth.ie. We would ask that anyone who is concerned about their own or mental health, or the mental health of someone they care about.