Coronavirus and the isolation caused by social distancing have created numerous challenges for everyone’s mental health. At this time, finding new ways to make sure people get the support they need is more important than ever.
A recent Cambridge News article highlights the positive experience of Julie Deamer in using text-based counselling through Qwell, our recently launched online wellbeing support service for adults in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Julie has accessed various types of support over the last 20 years after being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2000. Following an incident in spring 2019 which left her with foot drop and led to an 18-week stay in hospital, she required a surgery in November which has prevented her from going to work since then.
This has created understandable challenges for Julie’s wellbeing: “I’ve had it suggested that I’m going through the five stages of grief. I’ve lost my mobility, independence, ability to drive, my job, all in the last six months because of one incident.”
Julie accessed Qwell in April shortly after its launch and was quickly linked up with the online counselling service. The lack of a waiting list meant that she was able to get the support she needed straight away, having already been housebound for a long time before lockdown began this was really important for her.
“[Without access to online support] people would otherwise have to wait months and months to receive face to face counselling. If you wait things could get so much worse.”
Having gained access to online support, Julie was struck by how beneficial it was in terms of providing her with an outlet to express herself and structures for managing a routine.
“You can talk about whatever you want. I get to explore how I’m feeling, about the situation I’m in and it encourages goal setting for the week. I’d stopped doing that. With mental health, you always have to keep doing it as a practice, it’s a routine to keep. The more you put into it the more you get out of it. It really does work.”
The chat-based system also gave her the space she needed to communicate her feelings: “I find it useful. Sometimes you feel nervous talking to someone face to face. Sometimes I can express myself better in writing than I can by talking with someone.”
Qwell offers counselling on a weekly basis with a maximum of six sessions. Additional resources include online peer support through a moderated forum, self-help resources and an online magazine.
Coronavirus offers many challenges for wellbeing and the ways in which we can look after one another. But Julie’s story shows the positive impact rethinking the ways we provide services and manage mental health in unprecedented circumstances can have.