EXPLAINED: connections key to COVID-19 mental health support
Helping people through their struggles with mental health is all about finding the right connection. And maintaining that connection despite the coronavirus restrictions is something that Jannene Thorn and her team are going the extra mile to achieve.
Ms Thorn is the Manager of Mental Health Services at IMPACT Community Services and is proud of the efforts of her staff to stay connected to all their clients.
“We've worked hard to stay connected to them but also make sure they are connected to all the support resources they need during this time of change,” Ms Thorn said.
“The changes brought about by the coronavirus are challenging for all of us, but they are incredibly challenging for someone who already struggles with mental health issues."
She said her team was finding new ways to connect now as they adapted to a different normal.
Staff have had to adapt to the new technology, while at the same time help participants grow their capacity for this new type of connecting.
“It has been a slow but sure transition for both clients and support workers,” Ms Thorn said.
“Our staff have to find a new way to connect to people through screens and technology, and its been challenging, but very rewarding and very effective.
“We've had the idea of virtual one-on-one support on the cards for ages and now that the lock-down measures have forced our hand, we've been adapting very well.
“What we might have faced with a little trepidation in normal circumstances now has become a necessity, and we've learned that you never know what you are capable of until you're challenged."
The team is now expanding its connections to group settings.
“Our support groups have been on hold until we sorted out the technology but now we're up and running and presenting our first online group meeting this week,” Ms Thorn said.
They've assisted and encouraged all their clients to engage in this new online format and have gone a long way towards reducing anxiety.
The team are also helping them stay connected to essential services – doctors, chemists, and their usual appointments, and helping with groceries, all designed to help maintain a sense of routine, which is important to participants.
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs support, call IMPACT on 4153 4233.