A charity that supports vulnerable families has warned that there may be a mental health crisis that is long lasting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Home-Start – which helps parents of small children cope with problems related to mental health, loneliness and isolation – worried that the “severe effects” of the ongoing crisis will require significant time to recover.
The charity based in Paisley said the mental health of individuals and families in Renfrewshire will be a problem they must face long after the pandemic ends.
Iain MacDonald’s manager said they fully expect more self-reference from people in the community who might struggle.
He told Express: “We can face a mental health crisis when we get out of this.
“There is a lot of pressure on the family now, and that can have a negative impact on mental health. This is a very intense situation for people to enter.
“Isolation is our work throughout the year, and we work with families who may feel alone or struggle to get out for a number of reasons such as families with multiple births, disabled children or if they have a number of children under five.
“But everyone faced isolation during this pandemic, and the effects will last a long time.
“We will experience people who deal with relationship breakdowns, people who have been abused and those whose mental health is severely affected by isolation.
“Especially regarding families with young children, we hope to see an increase in self-referral.”
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Dedicated staff in organizations experienced in handling isolation, work throughout the year to support struggling families.
Working together with other support services, such as health visitors and social services, they are there to provide assistance to anyone who may need help to cope day by day.
They help parents with a number of problems, including illness, disability, relationship disorders, mourning, challenging behavior, many births or having many small children at home, and housing and financial problems.
Now, because of the global crisis, they fully expect an increase in families experiencing problems as a direct result of the tension caused by the pandemic.
As with all charities and other organizations, the way they work must be adjusted because the government has imposed a lockdown.
However, they have been working around the clock to ensure they can stay connected with the 70 families they currently support.
The Home-Start team has delivered food at the door, as well as providing care packages to families to help keep children entertained,
An online and telephone support system has also been set up to ensure that they can regularly stay in touch with parents while they are unable to make a home visit.
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Iain added: “Pandemic has increased all these problems in a number of households and we have to make sure we have a plan while we cannot go out and see people directly.
“Because of this, support actually increased because we were able to contact the family regularly throughout the week.
“We go out every day to deliver goods that people need and make sure they don’t leave without anything.
“We have also put together packages of arts and crafts for children to keep them entertained and give parents a break.
“Many of the parents we support are already dealing with anxiety every day so it is more important for us to stay connected with them now.”
Here are some key tips on how to help children overcome lockdowns.
Remember that we are all involved in this matter together, so keep in touch with family and friends through facetime, text or speedy phone calls. It’s important to talk about your feelings, and it’s okay to feel whatever you feel.
Don’t go through this alone, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Reach your family or friends, school or nursery, health professionals, and of course Home-Start.
Routine. Try your best to maintain the routine, this provides a structure for the day and lets the children know what to expect. This can be as simple as keeping meals, exercising, or bathing at the same time every day. Why not involve children in setting schedules for days / weeks?
Exercise. Even going out for a short walk once a day will benefit the family. When you go out talk to the children about the scenery around them, show them the trees and plants that have just bloomed, look for insects and birds, count the rainbow in the window.
Focus on the welfare of children and don’t stress because of schoolwork. Playing with children, working in the kitchen, doing arts and crafts, and cuddling are good ways to spend the day.
Make a memory tube. We live through historic moments, why not buy an old jar and write down all the things you want to do when the lock is held up on a piece of paper, like visiting grandparents, going to the beach, hugging friends, or cutting hair.
Remember that you do a good job. Don’t judge yourself by other people’s standards or feel pressured to ‘follow’ what others do, remember social media can be misleading.