This World Mental Health Day, our in-house Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr Jayne Williams, discusses the mental health implications of Covid-19 for the people we support:

“The 23rd September marked 6 months since the COVID-19 lockdown began. Already on high alert at that time, overnight everything changed as we adapted to restrictions put in place for our safety.

At this six-month point, many of us may be feeling quite flat, worried or exhausted. It’s common and understandable, as the adrenaline and novelty wain, and our stamina is seriously tested by exhaustion.

But the challenges that many have experienced over the past six months - financial worries, social isolation, fear and panic, illness, loss – are especially difficult for the people we support, and will likely continue to be given the recent announcements about further local lockdowns and a likely difficult and uncertain autumn and winter period.

We know that a large majority of the people we support have had multiple past traumatic experiences of abuse and loss. So, being trapped at home, feeling isolated, having no control over decisions, fearing illness and death, is often a stark reminder of times they have felt similarly scared or unhappy in previous relationships and situations. Furthermore, many of the people we support simply don’t have the support network of friends, family and colleagues that many of us rely on to help us cope.

A recent Wellbeing Survey we ran, which asked our Support Teams to assess the mental health impact of Covid-19 on the people they are supporting, found that, among the people we support, mental health had worsened by 32%. Looking at this more closely, some of the survey’s key findings show that:

In addition, we have also seen an increase in people we support using alcohol and drugs more excessively and in behaving aggressively towards others.

We have always approached our services in a psychologically informed way, ensuring that our support takes account of previous traumas and the impact they have on people’s behaviours and decision making, but during this difficult and uncertain time, it is more important than ever that the people we support are supported to manage their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Our frontline colleagues are working tirelessly to continue delivering our vital support, adapting where necessary, and making every effort to maintain some sense of ‘normality’ and routine for the people we support. We have also provided a huge bank of resources which include clear succinct information about COVID-19, ways to improve wellbeing, helpline information and activity ideas. We are holding activities in projects, from gardening, to cooking lessons and craft sessions, and regular opportunities for the people we support to connect with one another virtually, such as our recent Virtual Pride event with Viva LGBT+.

So the next challenge for us all is to what we do now to keep ourselves going………….

Aisha Ahmed sums it up well with her Twitter Feed: “’Right now, it feels like we are looking ahead at a long, dark wintery tunnel. But it's not going to be like that. Rather, this is our next major adaptation phase. We've already re-learned how to do groceries, host meetings, and even teach classes. And we have found new ways to be happy and have fun. But as the days get shorter and colder, we need to be ready to innovate again.’

There are no easy quick fixes here, but we are determined to be there for the people who need our support.”

- Dr Jayne William, Llamau Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Llamau and the Financial Impact of Covid-19

The Covid 19 pandemic continues to have a huge impact on the people we support and our ability to continue supporting them. Despite the incredible generosity of our supporters, the introduction of further restrictions alongside continuing increases in demand for our services, means that we are still facing the prospect of losing over £350,000 of income in this financial year alone, alongside additional costs of over £300,000.

We want to continue providing our vital services to young people and women facing homelessness not just now but long into the future, but unlike many other charities, we simply don’t have huge reserves to fall back on.
We know that Covid-19 has been financially difficult for so many people, and that many of you will be worried about your own finances, but if you are able to help, your support will make a huge difference in ensuring everyone who needs our support is still able to receive it.