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A “massive hangover” with regard to the public’s mental health will be experienced unless sufficient supports are put in place.

Sustained lockdowns as part of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting the mental health of all age-demographics in the county, representatives of Clare County Council’s Rural Development SPC flagged.

Farming representative, Denis Tuohy stated “mental health is going to be a big thing” when discussing the consequence of the lockdown. He outlined that the farming community is ringing around to each other in a bid to maintain contact and referenced a ‘ring your neighbour’ campaign by Macra na Feirme, “you’d normally have been 2-3 mins on the phone, now it is quarter of an hour”.

Shannon’s Niamh O’Callaghan commented, “I’ve seen in this lockdown more people than ever are suffering, it is not any socio-economic group or age demographic, it is from the cradle to the grave, it is people alone and people being with their kids going mad”. The commercial representative said it was being referred to as “ground-hog day”. She warned, “Without putting it mental health supports now, we will be in massive trouble in days to come”.

She continued, “You’ve the students trying to do school, they might have younger brothers and sisters running around, the mothers and fathers are trying to work from home and are going demented trying to keep a grip. There is no outlet for these people, when they put their children down they have to get to the housework”. Niamh said one individual with a special needs child was up 24 hours a day on occasions “because she can’t get her work done during the day because she has to give all her efforts to her child. It is not just people on their own, people have been left completely overwhelmed, it is too much, you would have to superman and superwoman combined to work from home, run a house and mind children. There will be a massive hangover from this,” the co-founder of Love Shannon predicted.

Chair of the SPC, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) believed it was a learning experience. “People are suffering right across from students to older people. Anytime I meet people they want to talk. Some of the challenges will not go away when people get the vaccine”. He added, “We’re all suffering from it a bit ourselves, we are not meeting as many people. We need to keep an eye on this”.

Senior executive officer in the rural and community development unit of the Council, Bernie Haugh informed the virtual meeting that an updated Living with COVID document was due which will incorporate the KeepWell campaign. “It will be on our agenda for the foreseeable,” she admitted.

Director of Service, Leonard Cleary detailed that every effort to obtain further funding to support initiatives to aid the mental health of the public will be pursued.

There is a wide range of people suffering from bachelor farmers to parents homeschooling, Cllr Pat Burke (FG). “People are under horrendous pressure and there is no light at the end of the tunnel”. He noticed that “the humour isn’t great with so many categories of people”. Burke added, “I spoke to a man who is dreading the stretch in the evening, there’s no hurling matches and so little going on, there is no mass, going to the Mart or going for a drink. We’re lucky to be busy but by God there are people really stressed”.

For mental health supports, please contact any of the following —

Samaritans: Emotional support to anyone in distress or struggling to cope. Contact jo@samaritans.ie. Freephone 116 123 every day 24 hours a day

Text 5080: A free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through mental health or emotional crisis. Text HELLO to 50808, anytime day or night.

Aware: Information, support and peer groups for people experiencing anxiety, mild to moderate depression, bipolar disorder and mood-related conditions. Support also for friends and family members. Contact supportmail@aware.ie. Freephone support line 1800 80 48 48 10am to 10pm every day.

Clare Echo Recruitment

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