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As the coronavirus pandemic lockdown continues to ease and many of us prepare to return to a pre-lockdown type of normal life it is likely to mean lots of readjustment and adapting to yet another change in our worlds.
Mental health experts are warning of new challenges to mental wellbeing as we transition again to another period of uncertainty.
Anxiety about how safe the easing of lockdown is, uncertainty around security of finances, employment and physical health, while many of us are still processing the traumatic period we have lived through means there is an anticipated increase in mental health issues.
The key message from experts is that it is okay not to be okay and that identifying a need for help and asking for it are the key steps to improving our wellbeing.
I talked to Strontian-based psychotherapist Liz McLure about how her work has helped clients throughout the lockdown and how she thinks the pandemic will affect people in the coming months.
Liz works with individuals, couples and groups from her home office on her croft here
on the peninsula and has nearly 40 years experience in mental health services. She offers a range of services and therapies for clients suffering anxiety and depression, survivors of abuse, bereavement and trauma as well as relationship and work place counselling.
I visited Liz in her office which she has made modifications to to enable social distance-
compliant visits from clients for face-to-face sessions and therefore been able to restart seeing clients again, but she told me she had been working throughout lockdown.
Liz said: ‘I was able to continue with many of my regular clients by telephone and a whole range of video call technology based on what worked best for each individual. Alongside that I have been doing additional training in online working myself.’
One of the therapies Liz is trained in is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) which is often used to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
We talked about how the pandemic has been an overwhelming and worldwide trauma with a huge impact on every area of peoples’ lives on a scale most of us have never experienced before.
Every single one of us will have had some level of disruption to our day-day-day lives with many of us having additional fall-out in the shape of uncertainty over work, study, finances, impacts on our own health or those close to us.
Many more will have contracted and recovered from Covid-19, lost friends or relatives. Liz explained: ‘Often people going through a traumatic incident can be hit with the full scale of it a year or even two years after the actual event.
‘It can take us that long to process unresolved grief. The current situation will have exacerbated that even further as we have not been able to mark our grief in the usual way with ceremonies like funerals which offer a chance to say a proper goodbye.’
Liz predicts that the full implications of the pandemic may well take years to process even after the pandemic itself may have gone away or vaccines and cures discovered.
She added: ‘There is additional pressure of the hothouse of people spending enforced time with family and spouses where there may have already been friction within those relationships.’
The services of a psychotherapist like Liz can be beneficial to anyone who feels they need help – as a one-off reset, or as a longer course of sessions. For the same sort of price as a haircut, new outfit, night out at the pub or a theatre ticket this could be an investment in yourself and your own mental wellbeing – positive act of self care engaging the services of a professional trained to help anyone suffering.
As Liz so beautifully puts it: ‘Mental health issues affect everyone, from all walks of life. There is no shame in asking for help and investing in yourself.’
Liz McLure can be contacted via her website at http://www.liz-mclure-psychotherapy.co.uk