Teagan McDonald is rising to the challenge of keeping people with mental health challenges connected during the coronavirus restrictions.
Teagan is a Peer Support Worker with IMPACT Community Services' Mental Health support team, which has just trialled its first online support group.
Like everyone in the team, Teagan knows it is vital to adapt to the current restrictions and maintain a stable connection for her clients during this difficult time.
“The changes brought about by the coronavirus are challenging for most of us, but they are really challenging for someone who already struggles with their mental health,” Teagan said.
She said it was all about finding out what worked and adjusting.
Teagan has been with her clients, supporting them every step of the way.
“Some people have never used this technology,” she said.
“It’s a lot to ask of them when their fears are already heightened.”
The first group session encountered some technical difficulties with a few participants not completing the session. However, Teagan and the team has embraced IMPACT’s ethos of testing, learning and adapting with modifications now in place to help ease future concerns.
“A small glitch can be a big thing for people already dealing with anxieties about this kind of contact,” Teagan said.
She said those who completed the session gained a lot from it.
For Teagan this new approach is all about understanding her clients' concerns and unique challenges and trying to tailor the sessions to suit.
“Some clients already have issues with being seen on camera, and hearing their own voice,” Teagan said. “We reassured them that they don't have to talk or can type what they wanted to say.”
For future sessions, Teagan and her team will take what they have learned and make sure their clients get the support they need.
“We need to give them more time to get used to the technology and this way of meeting,” said Teagan.
“Our clients often need a slower nudge to make these kinds of changes. We'll take a more gradual approach next time, to make it easy and hassle-free.”
Staying in contact during these challenging times is difficult for everyone, but Peer Support workers like Teagan are making sure everyone feels connected.