There has been less hope, fewer rainbows in windows and the novelty has worn off in this year's lockdown, according to the Head of HSC, as he expressed concerns over the ramifications on people's mental health.
The President of Health and Social Care used the latest media briefing to speak to people who’ve been challenged by the many knock-on effects of the pandemic and who feel that “hope in this lockdown is in short supply”.
“This second lockdown for some has been harder than the first,” said Deputy Al Brouard. “The novelty has certainly gone, there are fewer rainbows in the windows and we’re all just trying to get through.”
The message follows 43 call-outs for acute mental health situations and instances of self-harm during lockdown so far, with Bailiwick Law Enforcement also dealing with an uptick in domestic incidents.
Pictured: “It’s been a bleak few weeks for some,” said Deputy Brouard.
Deputy Brouard spoke about the immense pressure that lockdown has had on many of us in the community.
“For some islanders the stress, the loneliness, and the sense of isolation has been there for longer than this lockdown or even the first.”
“It’s been a year since some have been able to leave the island, some have missed big moments in their family’s lives, or not been there when loved ones needed us, or been there to say a last goodbye,” he said.
It raises questions as to whether the States of Guernsey plans to invest further in the island's mental health provision. It’s clearly deemed important enough that Policy & Resources outlined it in its Government Working Plan.
Pictured: The review of mental health provision has been highlighted as an emerging action required in P&Rs strategic recovery.
We asked to discuss the potential of a “wellbeing centre” to better understand what an “enhanced community café” is, or what the review would look like, but have yet to have an official response.
During the latest media briefing we posed the question of mental health investment to the President of Policy and Resources; Deputy Peter Ferbrache gave way to Deputy Brouard first.
“We could always invest more into mental health and all healthcare services, but we do have some good services here,” said Deputy Brouard. “These services are not overwhelmed, so please use them.”
Deputy Ferbrache followed up, highlighting how seriously mental health is taken these days.
“People now and more than ever are more conscious about mental health, because in the past mental health was not seen as an issue in high prominence,” he said. “I can assure you that P&R will give it high priority.”
Pictured: “This has been so difficult for so many people,” said Deputy Peter Ferbrache. “Life is about people, about interacting with each other, families, friends and all those social things.”
It’s clear the Bailiwick’s lockdown is doing its job of squashing the spread of Covid-19 and protecting many people from getting severely ill, but the health implications of the lockdown itself are unquestionable.
“There is no doubt that the lockdown has its own health impacts,” said Deputy Brouard, “both on our physical and mental health, some of them extremely serious."
If you are struggling, you can find help from these and other support services:
Healthy Minds: A States of Guernsey resources for therapeutic intervention.
Health Connections: A charity keeping people connected in the island and offering a number of community services.
Guernsey Mind: An independent mental health charity with lots of online services.
St Johns Caring Callers: A telephone service to help people dealing with loneliness.
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