Survey finds Covid-19 has led to an increase in demand for mental health supports in the community

Where do you turn to for mental health advice?

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Family Resource Centres are responding to a significant increase in demand for mental health supports during Covid-19. That’s according to a survey on Family Resource Centre staff and volunteers, conducted by the National FRC Mental Health Promotion Project.

The survey is a study of all Family Resource Centre staff, volunteers, and board members undertaken to identify trends in community demand for mental health supports and the well-being and professional development of Family Resource Centre staff, volunteers and board members.

Survey findings

The survey was carried out online in December. Key findings include:

  • 94% of respondents reported an increase in demand for mental health supports in 2020.
  • The survey identified the main reason for service-users making contact for support was due to feeling isolated. This was followed by anxiety about mental health.
  • 99% of staff and volunteers that completed the survey, felt that Covid-19 has had a negative effect on the well-being of service users.

34% of staff and volunteers that completed the survey, have used the Suicide Prevention Code of Practice in the last 12 months for supporting service users.

Commenting today, Monday, January 11, Shauna Diamond, National Programme Manager, FRC Mental Health Promotion Project, said: “Covid-19 has had a damaging effect on mental health. The pandemic has led to the loss of loved ones, economic hardship, and feelings of increased isolation. Family Resource Centres across the country have witnessed this first-hand and have collectively felt a huge increase in the demand for mental health supports.

“However, the staff and volunteers at Family Resource Centres are highly trained and have provided much needed mental health supports to their communities during Covid-19. Staff and volunteers have developed innovative solutions to maintain service delivery during the pandemic by organising counselling sessions online, outdoor support and care packages for families and older members of the community, to name but a few.

“The survey findings clearly indicate that Family Resource Centres are an essential service in our communities in providing mental health supports and that their role has become even more vital during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Impact on staff and volunteers

The survey also asked Family Resource Centre staff and volunteers about how Covid-19 has impacted their own mental health.

34 per cent of staff and volunteers that completed the survey reported their own well-being was good or excellent in 2020, which was a decrease from 72 per cent in 2019. The main factors negatively impacting well-being were the lack of ability to deliver services remotely and the increased demand for services.

However, the survey findings show staff and volunteers were proactive about minding their own mental health by participating in training and wellbeing workshops. 60 per cent of staff and volunteers that completed the survey, reported that they had participated in wellbeing workshops in 2020. While 70 per cent said they had completed the Suicide Prevention Code of Practice Training to assist them in their work with vulnerable service users.

Shauna Diamond added: “This has been an exceptionally challenging period for Family Resource Centre staff and volunteers, but they have demonstrated their resilience and unwavering commitment to provide vital services in our communities.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Family Resource Centres and the staff and volunteers who deliver the services.”

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